Retired Pope Benedict XVI asks for forgiveness over dealing with of clergy intercourse abuse circumstances, however denies wrongdoing


Retired Pope Benedict XVI requested forgiveness Tuesday for any “grievous faults” in his dealing with of clergy intercourse abuse circumstances, however denied any private or particular wrongdoing after an unbiased report criticized his actions in 4 circumstances whereas he was archbishop of Munich, Germany. 

Benedict’s lack of a private apology or act of contrition instantly riled abuse survivors, who stated his response mirrored the Catholic hierarchy’s “everlasting” refusal to simply accept duty for the rape and sodomy of youngsters by clergymen. 

Benedict, 94, was responding to a Jan. 20 report from a German regulation agency that had been commissioned by the German Catholic Church to look into how circumstances of sexual abuse had been dealt with within the Munich archdiocese between 1945 and 2019. Benedict, the previous Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, headed the archdiocese from 1977 to 1982. 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attends a Mass prior to the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica, formally starting the Jubilee of Mercy, at the Vatican on  Dec. 8, 2015.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attends a Mass previous to the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica, formally beginning the Jubilee of Mercy, on the Vatican on  Dec. 8, 2015.
(AP/Gregorio Borgia, File))


The report faulted Benedict’s dealing with of 4 circumstances throughout his time as archbishop, accusing him of misconduct for having failed to limit the ministry of the 4 clergymen even after they’d been convicted criminally. The report additionally faulted his predecessors and successors, estimating there had been at the very least 497 abuse victims over the many years and at the very least 235 suspected perpetrators. 

The Vatican on Tuesday launched a letter that Benedict wrote responding to the allegations alongside a extra technical reply from his legal professionals who had supplied an preliminary 82-page response to the regulation agency about his almost five-year tenure in Munich.

The conclusion of Benedict’s legal professionals was firm: “As an archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger was not concerned in any cover-up of acts of abuse,” they wrote. They criticized the report’s authors for misinterpreting their submission, and asserted that the authors supplied no proof that Benedict was conscious of the prison historical past of any of the 4 clergymen in query. 

Benedict’s response was extra nuanced and non secular, although he went on at size to thank his authorized group earlier than even addressing the allegations or the victims of abuse. 

“I’ve had nice duties within the Catholic Church,” the retired pope stated in his letter. “All of the larger is my ache for the abuses and the errors that occurred in these totally different locations throughout the time of my mandate.” 

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI speaks with Pope Francis during a papal mass for elderly people at St Peter's square on Sept. 28, 2014 at the Vatican.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI speaks with Pope Francis throughout a papal mass for aged individuals at St Peter’s sq. on Sept. 28, 2014 on the Vatican.
(Photograph by TIZIANA FABI/AFP by way of Getty Photos)

Benedict issued what he known as a “confession,” although he did not confess to any particular sin or fault. He recalled that each day Mass begins with believers confessing their sins and asking forgiveness for his or her faults and even their “grievous faults.” Benedict famous that in his conferences with abuse victims whereas he was pope, “I’ve seen at first hand the consequences of a most grievous fault.”


“I’ve come to grasp that we ourselves are drawn into this grievous fault at any time when we neglect it or fail to confront it with the required decisiveness and duty, as too usually occurred and continues to occur,” he wrote. “As in these conferences, as soon as once more I can solely categorical to all of the victims of sexual abuse my profound disgrace, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt act of contrition.” 

His response drew swift criticism from Eckiger Tisch, a bunch representing German clergy abuse survivors, who stated it match into the church’s “everlasting relativizing on issues of abuse — wrongdoing and errors came about, however nobody takes concrete duty,” the group stated in a press release. 

“Joseph Ratzinger can’t deliver himself merely to state that he’s sorry to not have carried out extra to guard the youngsters entrusted to his church,” the group stated. “That will be an trustworthy sentence.” 

The response will doubtless complicate efforts by German bishops re-establishing credibility with the trustworthy, whose calls for for accountability have solely elevated because the church has come to phrases with many years of abuse and cover-up. 

The pinnacle of the German bishops convention, Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing, had beforehand stated that Benedict wanted to reply to the report by distancing himself from his legal professionals and advisers. “He should discuss, and he should override his advisers and primarily say the easy sentence: ’I incurred guilt, I made errors and I apologize to these affected,” Baetzing stated. “It received’t work every other manner.” 

A relief of Pope Benedict XVI is on display in the Frauenkirche in Munich, Germany.

A aid of Pope Benedict XVI is on show within the Frauenkirche in Munich, Germany.
(Photograph by Sven Hoppe/image alliance by way of Getty Photos)

In a tweet Tuesday, Baetzing famous that Benedict had stated he would reply and has now honored that pledge. 

“I’m grateful to him for that and he deserves respect for it,” Baetzing wrote. The tweet did not tackle the substance of Benedict’s response. 


The regulation agency report recognized 4 circumstances by which Ratzinger was accused of misconduct in failing to behave in opposition to abusers. 

Two circumstances concerned clergymen who offended whereas Ratzinger was archbishop and had been punished by the German authorized system however had been stored in pastoral work with none limits on their ministry. A 3rd case concerned a cleric who was convicted by a courtroom outdoors Germany however was put into service in Munich. The fourth case concerned a convicted pedophile priest who was allowed to switch to Munich in 1980, and was later put into ministry. In 1986, that priest acquired a suspended sentence for molesting a boy. 

Benedict’s group had earlier clarified an preliminary “error” of their submission to the regulation agency that had insisted Ratzinger was not current on the 1980 assembly by which the priest’s switch to Munich was mentioned. Ratzinger was there, however his return to ministry was not mentioned, they stated. 

Benedict stated he was deeply harm that the “oversight” about his presence on the 1980 assembly had been used to “forged doubt on my truthfulness, and even to label me a liar.” However he stated he had been heartened by the letters and gestures of help he had acquired, together with from his successor. 

“I’m notably grateful for the boldness, help and prayer that Pope Francis personally expressed to me,” he stated. 

The Vatican had already strongly defended Benedict’s document within the aftermath of the regulation agency report, recalling that Benedict was the primary pope to fulfill with victims of abuse, that he had issued robust norms to punish clergymen who raped youngsters and had directed the church to pursue a path of humility in in search of forgiveness for the crimes of its clerics. 

The Vatican’s protection, nevertheless, targeted totally on Benedict’s tenure as head of the Holy See’s doctrine workplace and his eight-year papacy. 


Benedict mirrored on his legacy on the finish of his letter, noting that he’s on the finish of his life and can quickly be judged by God. 

“Fairly quickly, I shall discover myself earlier than the ultimate choose of my life,” he wrote. “Regardless that, as I look again on my lengthy life, I can have nice motive for concern and trembling, I’m nonetheless of excellent cheer. For I belief firmly that the Lord will not be solely the simply choose, but in addition the pal and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings.” 

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