Former Pope Benedict has emerged from self-imposed silence inside the Vatican to publicly deny that he covered up sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests.
In a lengthy letter to an Italian atheist author and mathematician, Piergiorgio Odifreddi, and published Tuesday by La Repubblica newspaper, Benedict denied personal responsibility for the Church's sexual abuse scandal. But he said the Church must do everything it can to prevent such a thing from happening again.
Victims groups have accused the former pope of not doing enough to stop the abuse, both when he was pontiff and before, when he led the Church's doctrinal office, which was responsible for abuse cases.
Benedict, who now has the title Emeritus Pope, became the first pontiff in six centuries to resign when he retired in February. Since then, he has been living in a converted monastery behind St. Peter's Basilica. He has been seen in public only a handful of times since his retirement.
The rest of Benedict's letter referred to other aspects of Christianity, like the conflict between good and evil.