Abuse report: Vatican takes Benedict XVI. in protection

Status: 01/26/2022 5:38 p.m

The report on sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising burdens the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. heavy. The Vatican is now defending him, highlighting his fight against clerical pedophilia.

The Vatican has fired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who has come under pressure for his handling of sexual abuse in the Church. taken under protection. Vatican Media Director Andrea Tornielli highlighted “Benedict XVI’s fight against clerical pedophilia”. The then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had “already fought the phenomenon” in his function as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“Strict rules against abusers”

After his election as Pope, Benedict XVI. later enacted “extremely strict regulations against clerical abusers, separate laws to combat pedophilia,” Tornielli wrote. He was also the first pope “who met victims of abuse several times on his apostolic journeys”.

So Benedict XVI. 2001 decreed that all cases of abuse must be reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, after noting that bishops around the world were more likely to transfer abusers to another parish than to punish them. In his last two years as pope, Tornielli wrote that he removed nearly 400 priests from their posts for abuse.

The head of the Vatican media emphasized that the report on the abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Munich was “not a judicial investigation, let alone a final judgement”. He also opposed one-sided assignments of blame. The report’s conclusions could only contribute to combating pedophilia in the church “if they do not confine themselves to mere scapegoating and sweeping judgments,” Tornielli wrote.

Opinion accuses Benedict XVI. misconduct before

The report presented last week found misconduct in all Munich archbishops since the Second World War. Benedict XVI was accused of specific and personal misconduct in several cases. The current Archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, has also been accused of formal misconduct in two cases. The experts speak of at least 497 victims and 235 alleged perpetrators, but they assume a much larger number of unreported cases.

On Monday, the Pope Emeritus admitted that he had made false statements in his statement for the report. It was about his participation in a meeting in January 1980, which he had initially denied.

The Ordinariate meeting in question is considered central to the later deployment of priest Peter H., who had previously been convicted of pedophilia, to parishes in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, where he then abused children again. At the meeting, a decision was made on the admission of H., who had attracted attention in the Essen diocese for sexual abuse, to the Munich archdiocese, which Ratzinger was archbishop at the time.

The presentation of the Munich report had caused a great wave of outrage in the Catholic Church and beyond. In a first statement, the Holy See reiterated “its feeling of shame and remorse for the abuse of minors by clergy”.


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