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Former Pope Benedict XVI accused of inaction in cases of child sexual abuse | Pope Benedict XVI


Former Pope Benedict XVI failed to act against four priests accused of child sexual abuse when he was Archbishop of Munich, a German investigation claims.

Benedict, who stepped down as world Roman Catholic church leader in 2013, has denied the charges, said a law firm tasked with investigating the historic allegations of abuse.

Martin Pusch of the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl law firm said Benedict – then Joseph Ratzinger – “was informed of the facts.”

He added: “We believe that he can be charged with misconduct in four cases. Two of these cases refer to abuses committed during his mandate and sanctioned by the State. In both cases, the perpetrators remained active in pastoral care.”

Benedict, whose resignation as pope took the world by surprise, has repeatedly rejected claims that he knowingly covered up abuse. In a long letter published in 2013 after his retirement, he wrote: “As regards the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with deep dismay. But I never tried to cover these things up.”

At a press conference in Munich to summarize the investigation’s findings, Pusch said: “During [Ratzinger’s] cases of abuse occurred during his time in office. In those cases those priests continued their work without sanctions. The church did nothing.

The lawyer added that the former pope “affirms that he was unaware of certain facts, although we believe that this is not the case, according to what we know.”

Benedict, now 94, was pope from 2005 to 2013. During that time, evidence of widespread sexual abuse of children and vulnerable people by priests mounted, resulting in a crisis in the Catholic church that has reverberated for years. the mandate of Benedict XVI’s successor, Pope Francis. .

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In one of the cases examined by Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, a now notorious pedophile priest, Peter Hullermann, was flown to Munich from Essen in western Germany, where he had been accused of abusing an 11-year-old boy. He was reassigned to pastoral duties despite his record.

In 1986, he was found guilty of sexually abusing more children and received a suspended prison sentence. He continued to work with children for many years and his case is considered a relevant example of the mishandling of abuse by the church.

Pusch said that Benedict had initially shown a “defensive attitude” when answering questions for the report. However, he later gave a detailed written statement.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the current Archbishop of Munich and Freising, was also found to have failed to act in two cases of suspected abuse.

In a statement, the Vatican said it would wait for the law firm’s full report to be released before making further comment. “The Holy See considers that due attention should be paid to the document, the content of which is currently unknown. In the coming days… the Holy See will be able to give it a careful and detailed examination,” he said.

“By reiterating the shame and remorse for the abuses committed by clerics against minors, the Holy See expresses its closeness to all victims and reaffirms the efforts made to protect minors and guarantee safe environments for them,” the statement added.

Francis has taken steps to stop sexual abuse and its cover-up within the church. In 2019, he ordered a four-day summit of nearly 200 church leaders plus Vatican officials and experts to discuss ways to deal with the crisis. The following year, he reaffirmed his “church commitment to eradicate this evil.”

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An earlier report on historical abuse in Germany concluded that more than 3,600 people across the country had been abused by members of the clergy between 1946 and 2014. Many of the victims were very young and served as altar boys.


www.theguardian.com

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