“No bad intentions”: Ex-Pope corrects statement for abuse reports

According to a written statement by his private secretary Georg Gänswein, the emeritus pontiff spoke of a “mistake” and an “editorial error” in his statement.

Contrary to what was claimed in the statement on the report published last week, Benedict took part in an ordinariate meeting in 1980 as archbishop of Munich and Freising, at which the experts were convinced that a priest was discussed who had repeatedly been accused of sexually abusing children It was said in the statement that Kathpress, the “Vatican News” portal and the Tagespost Foundation published on Monday.

Video: The Munich Abuse Report accuses Ratzinger of “serious misconduct” in dealing with a pedophile priest.

misconduct in four cases

That priest was later reinstated as a pastor in Bavaria and is one of the key cases in the report presented by the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) law firm on behalf of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. In it, Benedict is accused of misconduct in a total of four cases.

In his statement on the expert opinion, the answer to the question “Did you take part in the ordinariate meeting of January 15th XXXX?” clearly: “I did not take part in the ordinariate meeting of January 15th XXXX.” Overall, in his statement on the case of the recidivist priest, he states three times that he was not present at the meeting.

“Benedict strives for enlightenment”

When presenting their study last Thursday, the experts presented the minutes of the meeting, which they believe proves that Ratzinger was present at the meeting. The statements of the former archbishop described the lawyers as not credible.

Now the turnaround at Ratzinger: When correcting the statement, the 94-year-old wanted to “emphasize that this was not done out of bad faith, but was the result of an error in the editing of his statement,” said the statement published on Monday . “He is very sorry for this mistake and he apologizes for this mistake.”

Gänswein also wanted to make it clear that in that meeting in January 1980 “no decision was made about the pastoral assignment of the priest in question. Rather, the request was only granted for accommodation during his therapeutic treatment in Munich”. Benedict is currently studying the report intensively and is “close” to his former diocese and “very connected in the effort to clarify things”.

500 children abused according to report

According to the report, at least 497 children and young people were sexually abused by priests, deacons or other church employees in the Catholic diocese between 1945 and 2019. There were at least 235 alleged perpetrators, including 173 priests and 9 deacons. However, this is only the “bright field” – it can be assumed that the number of unreported cases is much larger.

The spokesman for the “Eckiger Tisch” victims’ initiative, Matthias Katsch, was disappointed with the Pope’s reaction to the report. Benedikt only apologized for making a false statement about his attendance at a meeting in 1980. “He should actually apologize for the whole process, because he is partly responsible for the fact that this priest was able to endanger children in the diocese for decades,” Katsch told the German Press Agency on Monday. “That’s the real scandal.”

It is a pattern in the Catholic Church to only admit what can no longer be disputed. “In doing so, he contributes to the fact that you really have the feeling that you can’t believe them.”

“Joseph Ratzinger is becoming more and more entangled in his fabrications of lies and will no longer be able to remedy the irreparable personal damage to himself and his life’s work with the detailed statement that has been announced,” said canon law expert Thomas Schüller. “In doing so, he permanently damages the papal office and thus the Catholic Church.”


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