Former pope knew about sexual abuse as archbishop of Munich: report

A long-awaited report on sexual abuse in Germany’s Munich diocese has faulted retired Pope Benedict XVI’s handling of several cases when he was archbishop in the 1970s and 1980s.

Pope Benedict has always denied knowing about cases of sexual abuse within the church during that time.

But a new report says he failed to act to prevent abuse by clerics.

“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 report’s authors, Martin Pusch.

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 archdiocese, whose current archbishop is a prominent ally of Pope Francis, and the law firm say that top church officials were informed about the results ahead of its publication.

Munich’s current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, hasn’t been implicated in any wrongdoing to date. But in an extraordinary gesture last year, he offered to resign over the Catholic Church’s “catastrophic” mishandling of clergy sexual abuse cases, declaring that the scandals had brought the church to “a dead end.”

Pope Francis rejected that offer but said a process of reform was necessary and that every bishop must take responsibility for the “catastrophe” of the abuse crisis.

Cardinal Marx declined an invitation to attend the presentation of the report on Thursday, which the lawyers said they regret.