The Vatican said it has not yet had access to the German child abuse report involving Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

A survey by the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) law firm, on sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, is shown before a press conference in Munich, Germany, 20 January 2022. Sven Hoppe/Pool via REUTERS (POOL/)

The Vatican today expressed its “shame” and “remorse” for the cases of abuse of minors by the clergy and affirmed that “it will give due attention” to the document of the German archdiocese of Munich that attributes the then archbishop and current pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, not having acted in at least four known cases that occurred under his hierarchy.

The Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, issued a note today in which he stated that “The Vatican considers that it should give due attention to the document”, but it specifies that “at the moment it does not know the content”.

“In the next few days, after its publication, you will be able to see it and you will be able to examine the details in a timely manner,” he added.

In addition, the Vatican wanted to “reiterate the feeling of shame and remorse for the abuse of minors committed by the clergy. The Holy See assures its closeness to all the victims and confirms the path it has undertaken to protect the little ones, guaranteeing them safe spaces”.

Pope Francis visits his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican (Reuters)
Pope Francis visits his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican (Reuters) (VATICAN MEDIA/)

The document commissioned by the Archdiocese of Munich to a team of lawyers, which was presented today, attributes Benedict XVI not having acted in at least four known cases that occurred under his hierarchy and highlights that the German pontiff has “strongly” refuted these accusations.

The document contemplates cases of sexual abuse that have occurred within the Catholic Church in that archdiocese since the postwar period and until practically the present day.

Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982, before becoming prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office) at the Vatican.

In two of the cases attributed to the period in which Ratzinger was in charge of that archdiocese, the abuses were allegedly committed by two clerics who provided spiritual assistance and against whom no action was taken at all.

report pedophilia in the church of Germany
Marion Westpfahl, of the law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) (AFP)

Those responsible for the report consider the reaction of the now pope emeritus rejecting these accusations “little credible” and maintain, instead, that on the part of Ratzinger there was “no recognizable interest” in acting against them.

Likewise, the investigators are convinced that Ratzinger was aware of the case of the parish priest identified as Peter H., who in 1980 was transferred from the bishopric of Essen to that of Munich after being accused of being a pederast and that in his new destination he continued to commit abuses.

The 94-year-old pontiff emeritus, who has lived in seclusion in the Vatican since his resignation in 2013, sent the lawyers a detailed document on the subject, the content of which is expected to have many confirmations. The reforming group of laity and theologians “Wir sind Kirche”, has stated that he hopes “an admission by Ratzinger that he was personally and through his position complicit in the suffering of many young people (…) would be a necessary sign of humility, as well as an example for many bishops and leaders”

The report was originally expected to be published in the summer of 2021, although the lawyers asked for a postponement due to the discovery of new data that needed to be verified.

Paolo Gabriele Benedict XVI
(Photo by Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis via Getty Images) (Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis/)

The report will be presented this Thursday at the House of the Bavarian Economy in Munich, at which time all information will be published. For its part, the archdiocese of Munich and Freising has invited a press conference next week to take a position “after a first examination”.

(with information from EFE)


They presented a report on child abuse in the Church of Germany that involves Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI