Benedict XVI blamed for handling abuse cases when he was archbishop

ROME — A report released Thursday blamed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for what the authors said was misconduct in his handling of at least four cases of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests when he was Archbishop of Munich, according to the law firm that conducted the investigation. .

The report on the handling of clerical sexual abuse of minors in the diocese of Munich and Freising covered the period between 1945 and 2019. Benedict served as Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982 and oversaw the clerics.

“In a total of four cases, we have come to the conclusion that the then archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger, can be accused of misconduct,” said one of the report’s authors, Martin Pusch, referring to Benedict XVI.

Law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, which wrote the report commissioned by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, said Benedict strongly denied any wrongdoing.

The Vatican said Thursday it would read and review the report in the coming days and give it “the attention it deserves,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

“Reiterating the feeling of shame and remorse for the abuse of minors committed by clerics, the Holy See assures its closeness to all the victims and confirms the path taken to protect the little ones, guaranteeing them safe environments”, Mr. Bruni said.

The report also accuses other church figures in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising of mishandling sexual abuse cases.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is one of Pope Francis’ closest advisers and who has led the diocese since 2007, offered his resignation as head of the archdiocese last year to take personal responsibility for sexual abuse. by priests in recent decades. But Pope Francis rejected his resignation.

The report identified at least 497 victims. Most were boys, 60% of whom were between 6 and 14 years old. She identified 235 attackers, including priests, deacons and employees of Catholic schools.

This is far from the first revelation of abuse in Germany. In 2018, a report commissioned by the church found that clergy abused at least 3,677 people in the country between 1946 and 2014. More than half of the victims were 13 years old or younger. Nearly a third of them had served as altar boys.

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