Retired Pope Benedict XVI has been implicated in a report on s£xual abuse in Germany’s Munich diocese on Thursday.
The report faulted Benedict’s handling of four cases when he was archbishop in the 1970s and 1980s.
The law firm that drew up the report said Benedict strongly denies any wrongdoing.
The findings were sure to reignite criticism of Benedict’s record more than a decade after the first, and until Thursday only, known case involving him was made public.
The archdiocese commissioned the report from law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl nearly two years ago, with a mandate to look into abuse between 1945 and 2019 and whether church officials handled allegations correctly. The law firm examined church files and spoke to witnesses.
Top church officials weren’t informed of the results ahead of publication. The current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a prominent reformist ally of Pope Francis was faulted in two cases.
Marx’s predecessors include the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who served in Munich from 1977 to 1982 before becoming the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and later being elected pope. Benedict gave extensive written testimony for the report.
Marx said: “In a total of four cases, we came to the conclusion that the then-archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger, can be accused of misconduct,” said one of the reports’ authors.
He added that two of those cases involved perpetrators who offended while he was in office and were punished by the judicial system but were kept in pastoral work without express limits on what they were allowed to do. No action was ordered under canon law.
Benedict gained a global and firsthand knowledge of the scope of the problem when he took over at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1982, after his time in Munich. Ratzinger took the then-revolutionary decision in 2001 to assume responsibility for processing those cases after he realized bishops around the world weren’t punishing abusers but were just moving them from parish to parish where they could rape again.
The report runs to nearly 1,900 pages, including annexes among which are Benedict’s written responses, redacted to black out names.