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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, during an audience in Saint Peter’s Square when he was still serving as Supreme Pontiff (Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis via Getty Images) (Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis/)

After the harsh report on pedocriminality in the French Church, this time an investigation into the abuse of minors falls on German religious. The law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) has presented its long-awaited document on how church officials covered up cases of sexual violence in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

The importance of the facts also has as a particular addition, in the report of some 1,000 pages, the responses of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. In 82 pages he answered the lawyers’ questions, his private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, told the German newspaper last week. bild . “He welcomes the prosecution in Munich and the publication of the report,” explained Gänswein. The fate of abuse victims was “very heartfelt” to him.

The volumes of the report of the law firm presented this Thursday in Germany (Sven Hoppe / Pool via REUTERS)
The volumes of the report of the law firm presented this Thursday in Germany (Sven Hoppe / Pool via REUTERS) (POOL /)

The report attributes to the Pope Emeritus not having acted in at least four known cases that occurred under his hierarchy, but stresses that Joseph Ratzinger has “strongly” refuted these accusations.

In the scope of this expertise of the Munich law office, it was aimed at identifying cases of sexual assault against children between 1945 and 2019 in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising. The authors also sought to point out the responsibility of the ecclesiastics who would have hidden these attacks, thus allowing them to reproduce for decades.

Among the high dignitaries of the Church questioned are the current Cardinal Reinhard Marx, representative of the report, his predecessor Friedrich Wetter, and Joseph Ratzinger, future Pope Benedict XVI, who directed it between 1977 and 1982.

report pedophilia in the church of Germany
Martin Pusch, lawyer at the firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (AFP)

Although this mandate was brief, during that time the transfer of the priest took place Peter Hullerman from Essen to Munich. According to an internal decree of the Munich ecclesiastical court of 2016, which the newspaper was able to access Süddeutsche Zeitung , it is mentioned that this cleric abused children in his home diocese, then was transferred to the Munich archdiocese for therapeutic purposes, where he again committed assaults and was also criminally convicted.

According to the documents, the priest again transferred to another Bavarian city where he officiated as a priest for twenty years, and then would have reoffended. In 2010, under the pontificate of Benedict XVI, he was finally forced to retire. That same year, the first accusations of pedocriminality in the Catholic Church in Germany began to be revealed.

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

With this material, the Munich prosecutor’s office advanced the request for measures. In August last year, the lawyers provided him with material on 41 cases in which experts believed there had been misconduct by church officials. This was explained by the prosecution at the request of the German press.

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.

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”.

The Munich investigation constitutes a milestone in clarifying the acts of abuse that affect the Catholic Church throughout the world, especially after the documents revealed in France, which detailed 216,000 cases against minors.

In Germany Catholicism is still the first religion practiced although its adherents have decreased: they went to 22.2 million in 2020, a reduction of 400,000 compared to 2019 and 2.5 million compared to 2010. Four years ago, a report detailed that some 3,677 children had been sexually abused since 1946 by more than 1,000 German clerics., details the French newspaper The Figaro. According to the same medium, “Most have never been sanctioned.”


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