Former Pope Benedict XVI admitted to making a false claim about a child sex abuse investigation

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI retracted a statement he made in a pedophilia case investigated by German authorities (Reuters) (POOL/)

Former Pope Benedict XVI admitted to providing false information to a German investigation into clerical sexual abuse.

Benedict, who stepped down as world leader of the Roman Catholic Church in 2013, said Monday that he had attended a meeting with local church officials in 1980 to discuss a suspected pedophile priest. In a prior written statement, the former Supreme Pontiff he had said he was absent during that meeting, something he now attributes to “an editorial error.”

His admission comes four days after an investigation report stated that Benedict XVI failed to take action against four priests accused of child sexual abuse when he was Archbishop of Munich, position held by Josef Ratzinger between 1977 and 1982, and that his denial of being at the meeting in question lacked credibility.

In a statement to the German Catholic News Agency KNA which was reproduced by the website vaticannewsGeorg Gänswein, Benedict’s personal secretary, said that The former pontiff would like to apologize for his mistake, while emphasizing that it was not done “for any bad reason or bad faith” but was the result of “an oversight in the editorial process of his statement.”

Gänswein added, however, that no decision had been made at the meeting on a pastoral reassignment of the priest in question and that further explanations would follow once the 94-year-old Ratzinger read the full report.

Paolo Gabriele Benedict XVI
When he was Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, he was accused of covering up cases of pedophilia within the Catholic Church (Getty Images) (Franco Origlia/)

The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising commissioned the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl law firm to investigate how child sexual abuse cases were handled between 1945 and 2019.

At the meeting Benedict attended, there was talk of Peter Hullermann, a now notorious pedophile priest who had been transferred to Munich from Essen, where he was accused of abusing an 11-year-old boy.. At the meeting, during which Benedict was quoted in the minutes, it was decided that Hullermann would be admitted to the diocese despite his well-known history.

Hullermann went on to be reassigned and sexually abused more children, before being convicted in 1986 of pedophilia and distribution of pornography. He was given a conditional sentence of 18 months in prison. Hullermann was reassigned again in 1987 to Garching an der Alz, where for the next 20 years he worked regularly with children as curate and parish administrator.

Martin Pusch, a lawyer for Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, said during a press conference last week: “During the time that (Ratzinger) was in office, cases of abuse occurred. In those cases those priests continued their work without sanctions. The church did nothing.

As pope, Benedict XVI was criticized for failing to act against widespread child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church and has repeatedly denied his role in knowingly covering up the abuse, although in 2010 he admitted that the Church “He did not act quickly or decisively enough to take the necessary measures.”


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