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Retired Pope Benedict XVI Asks for Forgiveness Over Handling of Sex-Abuse Cases

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ROME—Retired Pope

Benedict XVI

replied to fees that he mishandled instances of clerical sexual abuse in the course of his tenure as an archbishop in Germany, but his reaction seemed not likely to take out the taint that the allegations have still left on his document.

In his response, released by the Vatican on Tuesday, the retired pope asked forgiveness for any “grievous fault” he could have incurred, and expressed “profound shame” for failures that transpired through his very long profession of management in the church. But he did not acknowledge wrongdoing.

An accompanying document from his lawyers rebutted particular fees of coverup, perjury and insensitivity to abuse victims built against the 94-12 months-previous Benedict past thirty day period in a church-sponsored probe on historical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising. The probe faulted the then-archbishop in several cases for failing to investigate, willpower or take away abusive clergymen.

Benedict’s lawyers explained that in none of the circumstances in query did the future pope know that the priests had been even suspected of sexual abuse. His attorneys also reported that an error in his created answers to the Munich investigators, which led to accusations of inaccurate testimony, was owing to a “transcription error.”

Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks abuse situations all around the environment, described Benedict’s reaction as “a deep disappointment and missed possibility.”

“The former pope had the probability to do a thing courageous and historical past-transforming now. He could have turn out to be the very first pope to confess to deliberate coverup and enabling of sexual abuse. By so performing, he would have established an instance of radical truth-telling for other church leaders, such as

Pope Francis

himself,” Ms. Barrett Doyle mentioned.

Lawyers from the Munich organization Westpfahl Spilker Wastl very last month submitted their report on historical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising.


sven hoppe/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The Vatican, in which the retired pope lives, did not instantly react to a ask for for comment on Tuesday.

The controversy has still left a shadow on Benedict’s legacy of fighting sexual abuse, which was just one of the signature will cause of his profession as a cardinal and pope right after he remaining Munich for the Vatican.

For extra than two many years just before his election as pope in 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the Vatican’s anti-abuse czar. In that function, he pushed

St. John Paul II

to fortify the church’s reaction to the dilemma, centralizing prosecution of clerical abuse situations at the Vatican and maximizing penalties to involve defrocking, or dismissal from the priesthood.

As pope, Benedict prolonged the statute of limitations for abuse of minors and Vatican judges all through his pontificate rarely ever lessened the sentences of defrocked abusers on attractiveness.

By distinction with John Paul, who under no circumstances fulfilled with abuse victims, Benedict satisfied several occasions with teams of victims during his travels, such as to the U.S. in 2008.

Even in retirement, he referred to as for more rigor in prosecuting circumstances of clerical sexual intercourse abuse by church authorities.

“An overemphasis on the legal rights of the accused has at moments built it virtually impossible to convict abusers and that mentality stays prevalent,” he wrote in an essay revealed in 2019. The similar essay stirred controversy by suggesting that a lot of the blame for the church’s abuse disaster lay with the sexual revolution in broader Western culture.

But the blot on Benedict’s standing stems from his time as Munich archbishop concerning 1977 and 1982.

“A relaxed assessment of his time in Munich reveals that he could have and ought to have manufactured the oversight of clergymen his priority and scaled back again on other engagements. Based on flawed judgment, he dependable fellow monks who enable him down, and who covered up abuse and enabled abuse,” mentioned Ulrich Lehner, a professor of theology at the College of Notre Dame.

Mr. Lehner stated that Cardinal Ratzinger figured out from his blunders and, as head of the Vatican’s doctrinal workplace, “he did not delegate, but tackled the issue, even against substantial resistance from the pope and other cardinals.”

The Munich probe isn’t the first time that Benedict has stood accused of mishandling scenarios of abuse. One particular of the cases in problem was noted for the duration of Benedict’s pontificate, in 2010. At the time, the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising reported that his then-best adviser experienced taken whole accountability for reinstating a priest with a file of abuse to ministry in 1980.

Clerical sexual abuse has ongoing to haunt the management of the church about the dozen of a long time considering the fact that, together with in in depth historic reports of the challenge in Germany, France and the U.S.

In 2020, a Vatican report showed that a few successive popes, such as Benedict, experienced failed to willpower the U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in spite of widespread studies of his sexual misconduct. Mr. McCarrick, who has denied wrongdoing, became the initially cardinal in fashionable moments to be eliminated from the priesthood in 2019, following a Vatican court observed him guilty of sexual abuse of minors and sexual misconduct with grown ups.

Jimmy Pliska, of Scranton, Pa., is a person of individuals who are trying to find compensation from the church for sexual abuse that occurred a lot of decades back. If he accepts a settlement, he fears he may perhaps never ever know the real truth about his alleged abuser. Photograph: Alexander Hotz/WSJ (Online video from 7/11/19)

Publish to Francis X. Rocca at [email protected]

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