By Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa
Former Pope Benedict XVI has admitted to giving a false statement to a child sex abuse investigation when he said he had mistakenly told investigators in Germany that he did not attend a meeting in 1980 when he was the archbishop of Munich.
The admission came four days after a report was released on abuse in the archdiocese from 1945 to 2019, which said that the former Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict’s original name), failed to take action against clerics in four cases of alleged abuse while he was the archbishop, between 1977 and 1982.
One case involved an approval from Ratzinger in 1980 for a priest to be transferred to Munich for therapy. The priest was then allowed to return to pastoral work. According to the church, the decision was made by a lower-ranking official without the knowledge of the archbishop. The same priest was found guilty of molesting another child six years later.
During a news conference in Munich last Thursday, lawyers pointed out that Benedict’s 82- page statement said that he did not recall a meeting on the case while they had documents proving otherwise.
Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the former pope’s secretary, said Benedict “did attend the meeting, but the omission was the result of an oversight in the editing of the statement” and “not done out of bad faith,” and that the former pope is “very sorry.”
This news adds fuel to the large amount of resentment that Pope Benedict XVI has faced due to his inaction to the scandals leading up to and after his historic resignation. “As far as you mentioning the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only say, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things”, Benedict wrote in a letter after his resignation in 2013.
Martin Pusch, a lawyer at Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, said during the press conference, “During [Ratzinger’s] time in office, there were abuse cases happening. In those cases, those priests continued their work without sanctions. The church did not do anything.”