Pope: I Actually Was at Meeting on Priest Accused of Abuse

Benedict had originally said he hadn't attended, blames discrepancy on 'editing' mistake
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2022 6:57 AM CST
Updated Jan 24, 2022 10:15 AM CST
Report: Benedict Didn't Act on Sex Abuse Cases
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is seen in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Dec. 8, 2015.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

(Newser) Update: Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal, but there's been a shift in at least one story. Per the Catholic News Agency and CNN, the pontiff had originally told investigators he hadn't attended a January 1980 meeting of archdiocesan officials in which they discussed, among other topics, a priest accused of sexually abusing at least 23 boys. Now, after minutes from that meeting showed that Benedict, then the archbishop of Munich, was at the meeting, the pope is admitting he was. As for why he didn't say so in the first place, a statement from Benedict's private secretary notes that the pope "would like to emphasize that this was not done out of bad faith, but was the result of an error in the editing of his statement." The statement adds Benedict is filled "with shame and pain at the suffering inflicted on the victims," and that he'll speak more on the matter in a future statement. Our original story from Thursday follows:

Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger was the archbishop of Munich, a post he held from 1977 to 1982. And, according to a new investigation by a German law firm into the Catholic Church, a number of sex-abuse cases took place in the archdiocese there and were revealed to Ratzinger, who did nothing about it, reports the BBC. "He was informed about the facts," attorney Martin Pusch, of Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, said Thursday, per CNN. Pusch notes the probe found four cases in which the pope emeritus could be accused of "misconduct," including two that happened under his tenure and were "sanctioned by the state."

Pusch adds: "In both cases, the perpetrators remained active in pastoral care." The report was commissioned almost two years ago by the archdiocese itself, with a mandate to look into abuse allegations spanning from 1945 to 2019, reports the AP. The report also faulted the current Munich archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, in two of the cases. The law firm and archdiocese said top church officials were told of the report's findings before it went public, and that Marx turned down an invite to attend its presentation.

Benedict has long refuted the allegations that he knew anything about such sex-abuse cases, including in a September 2013 statement, when he wrote: "As far as ... the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things." The former pontiff, now 94 and retired since 2013, continues to deny the accusations today, the law firm noted Thursday. (Read more Pope Benedict XVI stories.)

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