A report on sexual abuse in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising, in Germany, prepared by a group of lawyers and presented this Thursday, documents hundreds of cases committed over decades and blames the successive ecclesiastical hierarchies for not having acted accordingly or even for have covered them up.
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The report lists at least 497 victims. 60 percent of the cases involved children between the ages of 8 and 14.
The law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) announced in Munich that it was mainly children and adolescent boys, victims of these abuses in the period between 1945 and 2019.
According to the study, there were at least 235 suspected perpetrators, including 173 priests and nine deacons. Despite this, 40 clerics became active again in pastoral care or this was tolerated. In the case of 18 of them, this occurred even after a “relevant conviction”. A total of 43 clerics did not take any “required action of a punitive nature.”
The report, as a prominent element, points to the then Archbishop Joseph Razintger and current Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for not having acted in at least four cases of pederasty that priests under his jurisdiction would have committed.
The document, commissioned by the archdiocese from a team of lawyers, underlines at the same time that Joseph Ratzinger has “strongly” refuted these accusations.
Critics have been accusing Ratzinger of misconduct for some time, specifically when it comes to a priest from North Rhine-Westphalia. The report says the man abused children on many occasions and was transferred from North Rhine-Westphalia to Bavaria during Ratzinger’s tenure, where he was eventually convicted of child abuse.
This case alone covers 370 pages of the more than 1,700-page report commissioned by the current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx.
Ich gebe der Kanzlei Westpfahl Spilker Wastl recht: Die Betroffenen brauchen einen geschützten Raum. Daher fordere ich einen unabhängigen Beauftragten hier in Bayern – auch der Freistaat sollte Verantwortung übernehmen. #Missbrauchsgutachten
— Diana Stachowitz (@DianaStachowitz)
January 20, 2022
Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982, before becoming prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II. In 2005 he was elected pope with the name of Benedict XVI and in 2013 he resigned to dedicate himself to spiritual retreat. He was replaced by Pope Francis and named Pope Emeritus.