ROME.- Days after the release of an explosive report on sexual abuse in the clergy of the Munich-Freising diocese, which he led more than 40 years ago in his native Germany, Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, corrected himself and admitted giving wrong information, but “not in bad faith”, to the law firm that conducted the investigation and apologized. Of four volumes and more than 1893 pages, the report accused him of “negligence” in handling four abuse cases when he was archbishop, in the framework of a broader investigation that revealed that From 1945 to 2019 almost 500 minors were victims of abuse.
In a statement he made through his private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, to the German Catholic News Agency (KNA for its acronym), Joseph Ratzinger clarified that he did participate in a meeting that took place in his diocese on January 15, 1980 on the case of a pedophile, something that he had previously denied. in that meeting the archdiocese of Munich decided to receive a priest from the diocese of Essen who had come for psychological therapy and was later reassigned to pastoral work in Bavaria, where he continued to abuse minors.
The pope emeritus, who will turn 95 in April and who was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982, He apologized for having denied having been at that meeting, something that, he stressed, “he did not do in bad faith” but because of “an oversight in the editorial process of his response.”. “He is very hurt by that mistake and apologizes,” said the statement, which specified, on the other hand, another key fact: that at that meeting “no decision was made about pastoral work for the priest in question”, but it was accepted that he stay in Munich while he underwent his therapeutic treatment.
Although he did not mention it, he alluded to the case of priest Peter Hullerman, who today is 74 years old and who, between 1973 and 1996 abused at least 23 boys between the ages of 8 and 16 and that in 1980 he had been sent to Munich from Essen with a diagnosis of “basic narcissistic disturbance with pedophilia and exhibitionism”, as recalled by Corriere della Sera. This case had already come to light in 2010, in the middle of Benedict’s pontificate, and the Munich diocese had clarified that Ratzinger had given his consent to the transfer from Essen for the treatment of the priest in question, but not for his return to pastoral activity. . It would have been Vicar General Gerhard Gruber who gave Hullerman an assignment as parish assistant, without Ratzinger’s knowledge.
At the press conference in which the devastating report – commissioned by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich – was presented last week, a lawyer sharply questioned the credibility of Ratzinger’s denials, showing a written minute documenting that the then archbishop had indeed participated in that meeting on January 15, 1980.
“Since Thursday afternoon the pope emeritus has had the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl report in his hands. He is carefully reading its content, which fills him with shame and pain for the suffering inflicted on the victims,” the statement released today from the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, where Benedict lives, also indicated. This went further and highlighted another more than important point. “Although he strives to make a quick reading, he (Benedicto) asks for understanding because a complete review will still take time given his age and health and also due to the volume,” he added, anticipating that Benedict will respond to the report, an investigation that threatens to damage his reputation and legacy.