Benedict XVI’s closest adviser, Georg Gänswein, has denied the cover-up allegations against the pope emeritus. For Benedict, the protection of victims and survivors of sexual violence in the Catholic Church had “top priority”, Benedict’s private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, 65, told the weekly “Die Zeit”.
A legal report released in late January on behalf of the Munich archdiocese lists mistakes made by the pope emeritus in dealing with abusers in four cases in his role as archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.
In a special report, the Munich lawyers dealt with the case of a priest from Essen who was singled out as an abuser and came to the Archdiocese of Munich in 1980. Ratzinger is said to have known of the priest’s exploits at the time, and yet he he used it in pastoral care in various communities. Experts found that the priest was still abusing children in the Archdiocese of Munich.
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The pope’s advisers, now 94, deny responsibility in the matter. There is no record that the employees responsible for personnel matters reported to Ratzinger at the time.
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Benedikt had denied the accusations in a statement to experts and falsely claimed not to have attended a meeting in which the Essen pastor’s personal details were discussed. The experts refuted this using the minutes of the meeting. Benedikt had publicly reviewed the false claim after the report was published.
Ganswein speaks of a serious “mistake”
In the “Zeit” interview, Gänswein spoke of a “transmission error” and called it a “serious error”. He denied the accusation of lying. “There is a world of difference between an error and a lie. The fact is that Benedict XVI was not aware of the accusations against the priest,” Gänswein emphasized. So his presence or absence at the meeting was irrelevant.
Benedict realized that he was accused of lying. According to the archbishop, who has been Benedict’s private secretary for almost 20 years, what was interpreted in his statement surprised him.
Gänswein also complained that there was a tendency in Germany to discredit Benedict’s person and legacy, both in theology and in the teaching profession. “Internationally, this discredit is not understood, much less accepted,” he emphasized. (epd)