Former pope was at meeting where paedophile priest was discussed

Pope Benedict XVI, Italy, Catholic Church
Pope Benedict XVI on Aug. 28, 2010. (photo: Vatican Media

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has acknowledged that he did attend a 1980 meeting at which the transfer of a paedophile priest to his then-diocese was discussed, saying an editorial error was responsible for his previous assertion that he was not there.

Authors of a report on sexual abuse between 1945 and 2019 in the Munich archdiocese, which Benedict – then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – led from 1977 to 1982, on Thursday faulted his handling of four cases during his time as archbishop and said his claim that he was not at the meeting lacked credibility.

Benedict, who provided lengthy written testimony, denies any wrongdoing on his part.

One case involved the transfer to Munich of a priest to undergo therapy, which was approved under Cardinal Ratzinger in 1980.

The priest was allowed to resume pastoral work, a decision that the church has said was made by a lower-ranking official without consulting the archbishop.

In 1986, the priest received a suspended sentence for molesting a boy.

In a statement to Germany’s KNA Catholic news agency on Monday, Benedict’s long-time secretary Monsignor Georg Gaenswein said the retired pope wants to clarify that he was in fact at a January 1980 meeting of local church officials in which the priest’s transfer to Munich was discussed.

He said Benedict apologises for the error.

“He would like to stress that this did not happen out of any bad intent, but was the consequence of a mistake in the editorial processing of his statement,” Monsignor Gaenswein said.

Monsignor Gaenswein stressed, however, no decision on the priest resuming pastoral work was made at the meeting and that it only approved him being put up in Munich during his therapy.

He added that Benedict is still reading carefully through the report and will need some time to finish doing so.

Monsignor Gaenswein said there will be a statement from the former pope on the report and that it will also spell out how the erroneous assertion about the meeting happened.

The statement to KNA was reported by the Vatican’s in-house Vatican News portal.

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