Investigators Find Pope Benedict XVI Mishandled Sexual Abuse Cases While Leading Munich Archdiocese

© Vladimir RodionovПапа Римский Бенедикт XVI
Папа Римский Бенедикт XVI - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.01.2022
According to an inquiry, Pope Benedict XVI mishandled four cases of clerical sex abuse during his time as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982. The Munich law firm commissioned by the church to conduct the investigations has reason to believe the former pontiff failed to investigate and discipline the abusers.
The Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, which was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, found that in two cases priests under Pope Benedict XVI’s authority (then Archbishop Josef Ratzinger) were criminally prosecuted for abuse, yet allowed to remain in the priestly ministry. One of these priests later repeated their offenses.
"We believe that he can be accused of misconduct in four cases," Munich lawyer Martin Pusch said. "Two of these cases concern abuses committed during his tenure and sanctioned by the state. In both cases, the perpetrators remained active in pastoral care.”
Pope Benedict XVI resigned from his role as sovereign of the Vatican City in 2013 citing health issues. He is, however, the first Pope to actually resign since 1415.
Benedict has denied that he allowed abuse to happen under his power, and his defense says he eventually showed the issue more attention when he left Munich to become the Vatican’s anti-abuse czar, at one point allegedly persuading his predecessor St. John Paul II to tighten the church’s laws as they pertained to disciplining abusers.
As part of the inquiry, Pope Benedict submitted 82 pages of written responses to questions from investigators relating to his time as archbishop. The lawyers have remarked that the written responses illustrate he has a clear memory of all that transpired decades ago.
According to the Munich law firm, it is believed that the once pontiff attended a meeting in 1980 where the decision was made to readmit to the ministry a priest accused of abuse; however, Benedict has denied having been at the meeting, as well as committing any and all wrongdoing.
According to Pusch, Pope Benedict XVI wrote rather nonchalantly about a priest who was transferred to his diocese after committing pedophilic crimes.
“The priest was found to be an exhibitionist but not a perpetrator of abuse in the narrow sense,” Benedict wrote about the offense. “The offenses included exposing his genitals in front of prepubescent girls and in making masturbatory movements as well as in showing them pornographic materials.”
“None of the cases involved touching. Neither as priest nor as religion teacher did he act improperly in any way,” the statement added.
Claims by Pope Benedict XVI are out of line with Germany’s laws now, as well as then, Pusch has stressed.
The investigation also found others in the Roman Catholic Church at fault for mishandling abuse claims, including the current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who made a public statement on Thursday in which he apologized to victims of abuse.
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“My thoughts go to those affected by sexual abuse in the Church. I am shaken and ashamed,” said Marx. “As the archbishop I am asking in the name of the diocese for forgiveness.”
The Archbishop of Munich has indicated that church officials would carefully study the report’s findings, and acknowledged perpetrators have not been held accountable. “The abuse crisis has rattled, and continues to rattle, the church,” he said.
A report conducted in 2018, commissioned by Germany’s bishops, found that 3,677 minors had been abused in the country over the past seven decades. In light of these ongoing reports and the ever-growing scandal for the Catholic Church, Archbishop Marx offered his resignation to Pope Francis in June, but the Pope rejected the resignation asking Marx to instead turn his attention to reform.
The report shook Germany’s Catholic Church so much so that they have begun conducting in ways which overhaul some of the Church’s more restrictive rules, such as same-sex unions and women clergy.
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