Former Pope Benedict admits he met about priest abuse

Retire Pope Benedict XVI admitted on Monday that he did attend a meeting in Munich in 1980, where an abusive priest was discussed, stating that an earlier denial was the result of an editorial mistake.

The hospitalization comes days after a report of sexual abuse in Germany accused Benedict of his lack of action against four abusive priests when he archbishop of Munich.

The attorneys who issued the report said Benedict had “totally denied” responsibility for the accusations.

At a press conference in Munich to present their findings on Thursday, lawyers disputed Benedict’s assertion that he did not remember attending a 1980 meeting to discuss a priest’s case. abuse. They say this contradicts the documents they own.

On Monday, Benedict’s personal secretary confirmed that the former pope had at last attended the meeting.

In a statement published and translated by the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost and Catholic News Agency, Archbishop Georg Gänswein said that Benedict “now wants to make it clear that, contrary to what was stated in the hearing, he attended the Ordinariate meeting on 15 January 1980.”

“He wanted to stress that this was not done for bad reasons, but as a result of an error in the editing of his statement,” it added. “He’s very apologetic about the mistake and he’s sorry for the mistake.”

Then Archbishop of Munich and liberal Josef Ratzinger in Munich, November 1981.AFP – Getty Images . File

At the meeting, attendees made requests for accommodation for the priest in question during his therapeutic treatment in Munich, the statement said. They did not decide on any pastoral duties for him.

The priest was allowed to continue pastoral work, a decision the church said was made by a lower-ranking official without consulting the archbishop, the AP news agency reported.

Gänswein said in the statement that Benedict planned to explain how the error happened after he finished checking the report.

Gänswein said: “He is carefully reading the statements below, which fills him with shame and pain at the suffering caused to the victims. He added: “It will take some time to look at the whole thing due to his age and health.

NBC News has reached out to the Vatican and Gänswein for comment. The Vatican’s internal portal Vatican News reported on the statement provided to the Catholic News Agency in German.

The report on sexual abuse in the German diocese of Munich, published last Thursday, shows that Benedict inaction on four occasions between 1977 and 1982 when he archbishop of Munich.

“In a total of four cases, we came to the conclusion that the then Archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger, could be accused of misconduct,” said one of the report’s authors, Martin Pusch, mentions Benedict’s name before he was made Pope.

The report also blamed the current archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a key ally of Pope Francis.

In a statement, Marx apologized on behalf of his archdiocese “for the suffering caused to those in the church over the past decades.”

Last year, Marx offered to resign over the “catastrophe” of the church’s handling of clerical sexual abuse cases, saying the scandals had brought the church to a “dead end.”

The archdiocese authorized a report from law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl nearly two years ago, looking into abuse between 1945 and 2019 and whether church officials handled the allegations correctly. or not.

Benedict, now 94 years old, resigned as pope in 2013. He served in Munich from 1977 to 1982 before becoming head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and later Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in December 2015. Vincenzo Pinto / AFP – Getty Images

Last year, Pope Francis said that a reform process was needed and that every bishop was responsible for the “catastrophe” of the abuse crisis. However, he rejected Marx’s subsequent resignation.

A report commissioned by the church concluded in 2018 that at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. More than half of the victims were 13 years of age or younger. , and nearly one-third are boys of the ceremony.

In cities across America, the church has faced a huge storm of child molestation allegations over the past few decades.

A 2002 investigation by Boston Globe, which was later written in the movie “Spark,” revealed how pedophile priests were moved around by church leaders instead of being held accountable.

Allegations of child sexual abuse have also been brought in Australia, South America and several European countries over the past few decades.

Reuters, Related press and Claudio Lavanga contribute. Former Pope Benedict admits he met about priest abuse

Jake Nichol

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