Former Pope Benedict XVI failed to act on four child abuse allegations as archbishop of Munich, according to a German investigation into the Catholic Church. From 1977 until 1982, Pope Benedict, then known as Josef Ratzinger, held the office. He has refuted the charges.
However, a recent research investigating past abuse claims conducted by a German law company implicated the previous Pope. Abuse is said to have persisted during his reign, and the accused priests remained active in church roles.
In 2013, the former Pope, now 94, became the first Church leader in more than 600 years to quit, claiming tiredness. Since then, Francis has lived a rather tranquil life in Vatican City and is recognized as Pope Emeritus.
The Catholic Church commissioned a fresh investigation from German legal firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl. “Two of these cases concern abuses committed during his tenure and sanctioned by the state,” lawyer Martin Pusch stated when announcing the findings.
“In both cases, the perpetrators remained active in pastoral care.”
In one case, it is claimed that he was aware of a priest accused of sexually assaulting adolescents who had been moved to his diocese but continued to serve in pastoral care duties. The previous pope is said to have sent dozens of pages of responses to the law firm’s questions, in which he showed support for the investigation but denied any knowledge of or failure to act on the claims of abuse.
However, there are minutes in the report that clearly imply he was present at a meeting when the matter was discussed. The Vatican responded in a statement that it would look into the report’s findings whenever it was released.
“As we reiterate the sense of shame and regret for the abuses on minors by priests, the Holy See expresses its support for all victims and it confirms the path to protect minors, guaranteed safe spaces for them,” the Vatican said.
According to a recent investigation on past abuse in Germany, more than 3,600 persons were assaulted by clergy members between 1946 and 2014. Many of the fatalities were altar boys who were extremely young.
Between 1945 and 2019, at least 497 abuse victims were located in the Munich and Freising districts, according to a new investigation. In addition to the former Pope, the study chastised numerous Church authorities, including Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the region’s current archbishop. In two situations of suspected abuse, he was determined to have failed to intervene.
In June 2021, the cardinal proposed Pope Francis his resignation, claiming that he should share responsibility for the “catastrophe” of abuse that was becoming public. However, Pope Francis refused to accept the resignation. The pope had altered the Vatican’s penal rules just a few days before, toughening the Church’s position on sexual abuse.