The report on the alleged sexual abuse in the German archdiocese of Munich – which has occurred since the postwar period and up to practically the present – attributes the then archbishop and current Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for not having acted in at least four known cases that occurred under his hierarchy. Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982, before becoming prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office) at the Vatican.
The Episcopal Conference says it will investigate abuses in the dioceses and rejects an independent commission
The document, commissioned by the archdiocese to a team of lawyers and which was presented this Thursday, assures, according to local media, that 60% of the cases involved children between the ages of 8 and 14. The report documents hundreds of cases committed over decades and blames successive ecclesiastical hierarchies for not having acted accordingly, at least, or even covering them up.
The lawyers who presented the report repeatedly called the analysis of the abuse cases they addressed in their study a “balance sheet of horror.”
In two of the cases attributed to the period in which Ratzinger was in charge of that archdiocese, the abuses were allegedly committed by two clerics who provided spiritual assistance and against whom no action was taken at all.
According to the report, Joseph Ratzinger has “strongly” refuted the accusations. Those responsible for the document consider “little credible” the reaction of the now Pope Emeritus rejecting these accusations and maintain, instead, that for his part there was “no recognizable interest” in acting against them.
Likewise, the investigators are convinced that Ratzinger was aware of the case of the parish priest identified as Peter H., who in 1980 was transferred from the bishopric of Essen to that of Munich after being accused of being a pedophile and that in his new destination he continued to commit abuses.
The lawyers consider Ratzinger’s statement that he was not present at the meeting in which the transfer was decided “little credible.” Ulrich Wastl, one of them, assured that the pope emeritus had “to have known the events” and that “very probably” he knew what was happening in the archdiocese.
The authors of the report lamented in their presentation the absence from the press conference of the current Cardinal of Munich, Reinhard Marx, who in 2008 commissioned a psychiatric report on H., although he did not open an internal investigation.
Marx presented his resignation last year as a gesture against the abuse of minors committed in the Catholic Church, a resignation that was rejected by Pope Francis. The cardinal is expected to rule this afternoon on the contents of the report.