WelCom March 2022
Former Pope Benedict XVI has acknowledged errors in his handling of sexual abuse cases when he was Archbishop of Munich and asked for forgiveness.
A letter by Benedict and a three-page legal addendum was issued by the Vatican after a report on abuse in the Munich archdiocese from 1945 to 2019 included the alleged failure by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to take action in four cases when he was archbishop between 1977 and 1982.
The report was carried out by a German law firm, Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, and was commissioned by the Catholic Church.
In responding to the report Pope Benedict wrote: ‘I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church. All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate.’
Noting that he had asked for forgiveness for the Church in his meetings with abuse survivors, Benedict, 94, wrote: ‘I have come to understand that we ourselves are drawn into this grievous fault whenever we neglect it or fail to confront it with the necessary decisiveness and responsibility, as too often happened and continues to happen…once again I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my profound shame, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt request for forgiveness.’
A separate analysis by four legal experts he commissioned, however, disputed the specific allegations against the former pope, and said Pope Benedict was not directly to blame. They said investigators had mischaracterised actions and ignored facts.
Victims have lamented a lost opportunity for healing as former Pope Benedict has acknowledged errors in his handling of sexual abuse and asked for forgiveness but his lawyers argued he was not directly to blame.
The organisation Eckiger Tisch (Square Table), which represents people affected by sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, expressed disappointment, saying Pope Benedict’s words didn’t go far enough.
‘Wrongdoing and mistakes took place, but no one takes concrete responsibility,’ the group said in a statement.
Sources: Crux, The Guardian