Pope Benedict has a great idea here except for a few problems. Pedophiles don't repent and their bishop enablers have exempted themselves from any accountability, which more or less negates any notion of complete repentance or any kind of conversion. This is even more egregious in cases in which bishops themselves are abusers. Benedict completely ignores the idea that real repentance might mandate structural change. The following is from the Sydney Herald.
Pope Benedict XVI says repentance is more effective than structural change within the Church to counter sexual abuse by priests.
Using an indirect historical analogy, the pope on Wednesday recalled the words of XII century Saint Hildegard, according to whom "a true renewal of the ecclesiastic community is the result less of structural changes than of a sincere spirit of repentance and an active path towards conversion."
Saint Hildergard at the time was fighting the criticism by German sects "proposing a radical reform of the Church in order to fight abuses by clergy," Benedict told 7,000 pilgrims at his weekly general audience.
The pontiff said Hildergard's was "a message that we should never forget."
Maybe Hildergard's is a message that needs some modification since eight hundred years later the Church is still dealing with the same abusive problems. Sometimes good old fashioned structural changes can facilitate true repentance. Often times these structural changes also reduce one's ability to abuse with impunity or disabuse one of the notion they are not accountable to anyone other than themselves. Come to think of it, isn't Benedict the same Pope who is demanding structural changes for the Legionaries and suggested Maciel restructure himself into a monastery?
Actually, I'm not sure structural changes would actually accomplish much if they weren't accompanied by a completely different mindset. As it stands now the Church is in love with the idea of the victim/abuser dynamic. It's pervasive in much of it's theology and spirituality. It leads to the kind of mentality that blames victims for being complicit in their own victimization, or tells them to offer up their suffering for the good of their abuser, or demands they forgive their unrepentant abuser for the good of their own soul. There's a bit of truth in the last statement, but it's a long road for any victim to reach that point of forgiveness. The larger truth is forgiveness of this sort is too often seen by the abuser as a free pass and short circuits true repentance and conversion. This is sometimes called receiving cheap grace. Real grace is not cheap. I am not personally predisposed to offering Benedict much cheap grace.
This victim/abuser dynamic can also be described by the terms prey/predator. The operative emotional consequence for people exposed to this dynamic is fear. The Church has a long traditional history of evoking fear in it's adherents. Victimizing and preying on catechized lay fear has also proven to be very lucrative. This is why I'm quite sure Benedict is not going to advocate change in the cultural structure. We'll just have to trust an intrinsically predatory hierarchical structure will change it's stripes and repent and convert. He wants us to believe this clerical lion will lay down with it's lay lambs. Right.