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The report on alleged sexual abuse in the German Archdiocese of Munich attributes the then archbishop and current Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI of not having acted in at least four known cases that occurred under his hierarchy.
The document, commissioned by the archdiocese to a team of lawyers and presented today, also highlights that Joseph Ratzinger has “strongly” refuted these accusations.
The document contemplates cases of sexual abuse that have occurred within the Catholic Church in that archdiocese since the post-war period and until practically the present day.
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 report documents hundreds of cases committed over decades, up to practically the present, and holds successive ecclesiastical hierarchies responsible for not having acted accordingly, at least, or even having covered them up.
The lawyers who presented the report repeatedly called the analysis of the abuse cases they addressed within their study a “balance 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.
Those responsible for the report consider the reaction of the now pope emeritus, rejecting these accusations, as “little credible” and maintaining, on the other hand, that on the part of Ratzinger there was “no recognizable interest” in acting against them.
The investigators are also 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, as “little credible”.
Ulrich Wastl, one of them, assured that Ratzinger had “to have known the events” and that he “very probably” knew what was happening in the archdiocese.
The authors of the report regretted, 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 make a statement this afternoon on the contents of the report.