Benedict XVI covered up sexual abuse against minors when he was a cardinal

Benedict XVI covered up sexual abuse against minors when he was a cardinal
Benedict XVI covered up sexual abuse against minors when he was a cardinal

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI helped cover up a chaplain convicted of sexual abuse in the 1980s, when he was Cardinal and Archbishop of Munich (Germany), according to an ecclesiastical document reported on Tuesday by various German media.

Chaplain Peter H. was transferred in 1980 from the diocese of Essen to that of Munich-Freising, after having abused several minors. Upon learning of the accusations, his superiors did not clarify them, but forced him to undergo psychological therapy.

Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Archbishop of Munich-Freising, knew that the chaplain had committed abuses, but he still approved his transfer and did not report the case to the Vatican, as was his obligation, according to an extrajudicial decree of the Ecclesiastical Court of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising 2016.

After the transfer approved by Ratzinger, the priest continued with the abuses, for which he was sentenced in 1986 to 18 in prison, which led the ecclesiastical authorities to transfer him again, this time to Garching, in southern Germany.

Joseph Ratzinger “was willing to admit to the priest H. that he was aware of the situation”, says the document, quoted by public television station ZDF and by the weekly “Die Ziet”.

Therefore, the document accuses Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and other ecclesiastical authorities of not having fulfilled their “responsibility” towards the “children and adolescents entrusted to their pastoral care”, according to the investigation of the two media.

According to the document, Ratzinger and other authorities linked to the case never reported it to the Vatican, which “does not allow any other consequences to be drawn” than “they deliberately renounced the punishment of the crime”.

Through his personal secretary, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI denied having knowledge of the records of priest H., “therefore, he did not violate his obligation to inform Rome”, according to statements cited by the ZDF.

Peter H. was not removed from the priesthood until 2010, which is why the document also criticizes the current Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who in 2008 asked for a psychiatric report on the chaplain’s mental state, having transferred him again, abdicating to open an internal investigation.

In June 2021, Pope Francis rejected Cardinal Marx’s resignation after he resigned as a gesture against sexual abuse of minors by members of the Catholic Church in Germany.

 
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