German Investigation Accuses Benedict XVI of Covering Up Sexual Abuse
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has failed to intervene in at least four cases of sexual abuse in the Church during his tenure as Archbishop. This is stated in an expert report that will be published in Germany on Thursday.
The four cases came to light through an investigation by law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl into abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. Benedict XVI – then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – was Archbishop there from 1977 to 1982.
“He was informed of the facts,” said lawyer Martin Pusch at the presentation of the report in Munich. “Two cases involved abuse that occurred during his tenure and was sanctioned by the state. In both cases, the perpetrators remained active in pastoral care.”
“During his tenure, there has been abuse,” Pusch said. “In those cases, those priests went on with their work, without sanctions. The Church has done nothing.”
The now 94-year-old ex-pope denies the allegations, the law firm says. “He claims he was not aware of certain facts,” Pusch said. “Based on our information, we believe this is not the case.”
The investigation, which was requested by the diocese, reports 497 victims of child abuse by the clergy between 1945 and 2019. The victims were mainly underage boys. According to the researchers, many cases have never been reported. The abuse has been committed by at least 235 perpetrators, including 173 priests. Most of those perpetrators remained employed, according to the report, even after the charges against them surfaced.
Ratzinger became Pope in 2005 and then took the name, Benedict XVI. Then, in February 2013, he unexpectedly withdrew. He has been living in seclusion in the Vatican ever since.