Home Politics Previously convicted priest spared?: Pope Benedict in the sights of the experts

Previously convicted priest spared?: Pope Benedict in the sights of the experts

Previously convicted priest spared?: Pope Benedict in the sights of the experts

Friday January 14, 2022

Convicted priest spared? Pope Benedict in the sights of the experts

Francis has new revelations about how the Catholic Church deals with child abuse. A report explicitly examines the role of Pope Benedict and Cardinal Marx in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. The paper will be published next week and nervousness is mounting.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. currently has to worry about his good reputation. Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx could also have to submit a new resignation to Pope Francis. Such consequences are threatened by an expert report by the Munich law firm Westphal Spilker Wastl on cases of abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. Although the paper will not be presented until next Thursday, it is already causing excitement internationally. Above all, the former Archbishop of Munich Joseph Ratzinger, who has risen to the rank of Pope, has a lot to lose: The 94-year-old Ratzinger, who lives in seclusion in the Vatican as Pope Emeritus, is probably why he gave such comprehensive testimony and delivered an 82-page statement for the report. Ratzinger was Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982. During this time there was a case of abuse, which today is seen by many as an example of the Catholic Church’s irresponsible handling of abuse. H. was also able to act unmolested in Bavaria and abuse other children. The co-responsibility of the then bishop Ratzinger, but also of the following bishops, is one of the core questions of the report – Ratzinger had statements rejected that he had knowledge of the past history of the priest.

Ratzinger explicitly mentions an internal church decree

It is unclear whether the future pope will be exonerated or incriminated by the report. The content of the expertise is not yet known. The current leaders around the incumbent Munich Archbishop Marx do not yet know the content of the report and only want to take a position a week after the presentation, on January 27th. However, at the beginning of the year, an internal church document leaked out that explicitly named Ratzinger and Marx and blamed them for the fact that the convicted priest was reinstated in Bavaria. Most recently, Marx recommended that the man be removed from the priesthood unmolested and without ecclesiastical criminal proceedings, reported the “Zeit”. Cardinal Marx commissioned the law firm, which had previously been active in the diocese of Aachen, to prepare the report. Westphal Spilker Wastl also prepared the report for the Archdiocese of Cologne, which the local Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki kept under wraps for a long time. This triggered a deep crisis of confidence there. Woelki is currently on a sabbatical – although Catholics in his diocese have left the church in droves after the criticized processing, his return is expected in March.

Expert opinion brought no peace in Cologne

How the Munich Cardinal Marx deals with the report is open. Marx already offered Pope Francis his resignation in May of last year, while the work was still ongoing, with reference to misconduct in the abuse scandal, which Francis rejected. Marx later did not rule out a new resignation request – for example, in the event that new allegations came up. But Pope Francis has so far shown little interest in reacting to allegations and misconduct in dealing with abuse cases by exchanging leading clerics. He also rejected the offer of resignation from Bishop Stefan Hess of Hamburg, who had been shown to have made several misconduct in dealing with cases of abuse during his time in Cologne. In Cologne, the abuse report did not lead to a pacification of the situation there, but to sustained anger at the Catholic Church . Whether things will be different in Munich after the 82-page statement by Pope Benedict and Cardinal Marx’s willingness to resign will be seen after the report is published.

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