Pope Benedict Willfully Let Children Be Raped, Says Lawyer

ROME — The last thing most people will now remember about Pope Benedict XVI may not be his legacy as head of the Roman Catholic Church or his historic resignation in 2013.

Thanks to an investigation by the German law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, it is possible that before he became pope, Joseph Ratzinger knowingly allowed rampant sexual abuse to continue while he was still a child. is the head of the diocese of Munich. “Transparent [Ratzinger’s] Martin Pusch, who is leading the investigation at the behest of the German church, told reporters. “In those cases, those priests continued their work with impunity. The church did nothing.”

The systematic global sexual abuse at the hands of priests that has been going on unchecked for decades is widely known to date. The German church found that more than 3,600 victims were raped and sexually abused by priests between 1946 and 2014, which led to the report.

What makes this case important is that Ratzinger, before becoming pope, also headed the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Church’s watchdog on policy. He was appointed to that post after working in the German church, which is now in clear doubt. Many victims of sexual abuse have long thought he wasn’t doing enough when he was head of the church’s catechism office, which could have prevented abuse from happening from above, instead. for ignoring reports.

In the case of the German church, Pusch said it might tie Ratzinger then into certain specific circumstances. “We believe he can be charged with misconduct in four cases,” he said. “Two of these cases involved abuses committed during his tenure and sanctioned by the state. In both cases, the perpetrator remained active in pastoral care”.

Benedict, the first pope to retire in more than four centuries, said he doesn’t remember specific cases. “As far as you mention the moral abuse of minors by priests, as you know, I can only acknowledge it with profound disgust,” he wrote at the time of his resignation. “But I’ve never tried to cover these things up.”

Pusch accused the former pope, now 94, of being “defensive” in his cooperation with the report, commissioned by the German church Ratzinger was once an integral part of. He mentioned his resignation letter during his press conference and tried to shift focus by accusing the former pope of blatant misconduct, saying he “claims that he is unaware of a certain events, although we believe this is not the case, to the best of our knowledge.”

Ratzinger is not the only German director found to be negligent. Lawyers said Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who currently heads the diocese of Munich and is a key ally of Pope Francis, also “failed” in at least two cases.

Last year, Marx offered to resign to Francis when the report was authorized. Francis tells him to continue his work. On Thursday, he apologized for the sins of the church, but not his own – at least until he has had time to “digest” the accusations made in The report has not yet been published. “As the incumbent archbishop, I apologize on behalf of the archdiocese for the suffering caused to people in the church district in recent decades,” Marx said in a statement. . “Now is the time to regain the momentum the report provides and take the next steps in the future.”

But victim groups believe the time for change has long since passed. “For us, this is not shocking news,” SNAP, a network of survivors, said in a statement. “Sadly, we see these unwarranted acts and actions emerge years later, following the prolonged silence of church officials and the painful memories of the victims.”

Other survivors say the report will leave a deeper mark on the legacy of the former pope. Matthias Katsch, who leads a group representing survivors of German clerical abuse, told German media, calling the moment “historic”.

Marx, a spokesman for Benedict as well as the Vatican, said they would need to read the full report before commenting. “The Holy See considers it necessary to give due attention to the document, the contents of which are currently unknown,” the Vatican said. “To reiterate the shame and regret over the abuses committed by clerics against minors, the Holy See expresses its closeness to all the victims and reaffirms the efforts made to protect minors and ensure a safe environment for them.”

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