BERLIN (AP) — A protracted-awaited report on sexual abuse in Germany’s Munich diocese on Thursday faulted retired Pope Benedict XVI’s dealing with of 4 instances when he was archbishop within the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties. The regulation agency that drew up the report stated Benedict strongly denies any wrongdoing.
The findings had been positive to reignite criticism of Benedict’s document greater than a decade after the primary, and till Thursday solely, recognized case involving him was made public.
The archdiocese commissioned the report from regulation agency Westpfahl Spilker Wastl practically two years in the past, with a mandate to look into abuse between 1945 and 2019 and whether or not church officers dealt with allegations appropriately. The regulation agency examined church recordsdata and spoke to witnesses.
Church officers weren’t knowledgeable of the outcomes forward of publication. The present archbishop — Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a outstanding reformist ally of Pope Francis — was faulted in two instances.
Marx’s predecessors embrace the previous Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who served in Munich from 1977 to 1982 earlier than turning into head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Religion and later being elected pope. Benedict gave intensive written testimony for the report.
“In a complete of 4 instances, we got here to the conclusion that the then-archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger, might be accused of misconduct,” stated one of many report’s authors, Martin Pusch.
Two of these instances, he stated, concerned perpetrators who offended whereas he was in workplace and had been punished by the judicial system however had been stored in pastoral work with out categorical limits on what they had been allowed to do. No motion was ordered underneath canon regulation.
In a 3rd case, a cleric who had been convicted by a courtroom exterior Germany was put into service within the Munich archdiocese and the circumstances communicate for Ratzinger having recognized of the priest’s earlier historical past, Pusch stated.
When the church abuse scandal first flared in Germany in 2010, consideration swirled round one other case: that of a pedophile priest whose switch to Munich to bear remedy was accepted underneath Ratzinger in 1980.
The priest was allowed to renew pastoral work, a call that the church has stated was made by a lower-ranking official with out consulting the archbishop. In 1986, the priest obtained a suspended sentence for molesting a boy.
One other of the report’s authors, Ulrich Wastl, stated Benedict’s declare to not have attended a gathering in 1980 by which the priest’s switch to Munich was mentioned lacks credibility.
“In all instances, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI strictly denies any wrongdoing on his half,” Pusch stated, and the retired pontiff cites largely “lack of know-how of the info and a scarcity of relevance underneath canon and legal regulation.” However he added that the assertions of lack of know-how had been generally “arduous to reconcile” with the contents of church recordsdata.
Matthias Katsch of Eckiger Tisch, a bunch representing German clergy abuse survivors, spoke of a “historic” second. “This constructing of lies that was constructed right here in Munich to guard Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict, collapsed immediately,” he instructed German information company dpa.
“To us, this isn’t surprising information,” SNAP, a community representing survivors of intercourse abuse by clergy, stated in a press release. “Sadly, we see these unsavory actions and inactions floor years later after prolonged silence by church officers and painful recollections harbored by victims.”
Benedict’s longtime secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, stated the retired pope hadn’t but learn the report however would within the coming days.
“The emeritus pope, as he repeated many instances in the course of the years of his hold forth, expresses his upset and disgrace on the abuse of minors dedicated by clerics, and expresses his private closeness and his prayers to all of the victims, a few of whom he met throughout his apostolic journeys,” Gaenswein stated in a press release. Benedict retired in 2013.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni stated the Holy See wouldn’t remark till it had learn the report in full and will give the contents “cautious and detailed examination.”
Benedict’s legacy as pope had already been coloured by the worldwide eruption in 2010 of the intercourse abuse scandal, though as a cardinal he was chargeable for turning across the Vatican’s method to the problem.
Benedict gained firsthand data of the worldwide scope of the issue when he took over on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Religion in 1982, after his time in Munich. Ratzinger took the then-revolutionary choice in 2001 to imagine accountability for processing these instances after he realized bishops around the globe weren’t punishing abusers however had been simply shifting them from parish to parish the place they might rape once more.
The report runs to almost 1,900 pages, together with annexes amongst that are Benedict’s written responses, redacted to black out names.
It factors to a minimum of 497 abuse victims over the many years and a minimum of 235 suspected perpetrators, although the authors stated that in actuality there have been in all probability many extra.
Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, Munich’s archbishop from 1982 till Marx took over in 2008, was faulted over his dealing with of 21 instances. Pusch stated he additionally denies wrongdoing.
In a rare gesture final 12 months, Marx supplied to resign over the Catholic Church’s “catastrophic” mishandling of clergy sexual abuse instances, declaring that the scandals had introduced the church to “a useless finish.”
Francis swiftly rejected the provide however stated a strategy of reform was vital and that each bishop should take accountability for the “disaster” of the abuse disaster.
Marx didn’t point out both Benedict’s position or his personal in a short look hours after the report was launched, however supplied an apology.
“As archbishop of Munich and Freising, I really feel that I share accountability for the church as an establishment over current many years,” he stated. “In order the serving archbishop, I apologize for the struggling that was prompted to individuals” in church establishments, he added.
Marx added that church officers will think about “outcomes and additional penalties” as they research the report, and he hopes for preliminary conclusions subsequent Thursday. He stated that coping with abuse is inseparable from reform of the church.
In 2018, a separate church-commissioned report concluded that a minimum of 3,677 individuals had been abused by clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. Greater than half of the victims had been 13 or youthful, and practically a 3rd served as altar boys.
In current months, turbulence within the Cologne archdiocese over officers’ dealing with of abuse allegations has convulsed the German church. A report final 12 months discovered that the archbishop of Hamburg, a former Cologne church official, uncared for his responsibility in a number of instances in dealing with such allegations, however Francis rejected his resignation provide.
That report cleared Cologne’s archbishop of wrongdoing, however Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s dealing with of the problem infuriated many Catholics. In September, the pope gave Woelki a several-month “non secular timeout” after what the Vatican referred to as “main errors” of communication.
Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.