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Pope Benedict XVI knew of abusive priests when he ran Munich archdiocese, investigators say

“He was informed about the facts,” lawyer Martin Pusch mentioned, because the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl legislation agency introduced the findings of an investigation into historic sexual abuse on the Munich Archdiocese over a number of a long time. The report was commissioned by the church itself.

“We believe that he can be accused of misconduct in four cases,” Pusch mentioned. “Two of these cases concern abuses committed during his tenure and sanctioned by the state. In both cases, the perpetrators remained active in pastoral care.”

Benedict responded to the report in a while Thursday, expressing his “pain and shame” for abuse within the church. Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Benedict’s personal secretary, instructed Vatican News: “Until this afternoon, Benedict XVI did not have the report from the legal firm … which is more than 1,000 pages. In the next few days, he will examine the text with due attention.”

The secretary added that the previous Pope “expresses his pain and shame for the abuses of minors committed by priests [and] manifests his personal closeness and his prayers for all the victims, some of whom he met with during his apostolic trips.”

Benedict has beforehand repeatedly rejected claims that he knowingly coated up abuse, together with in 2013 when he wrote: “I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things.”

However, the findings offered Thursday characterize a exceptional rebuke of the previous Pope, then often known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, which follows years of hypothesis about how a lot he knew.

“During his time in office there were abuse cases happening,” Pusch mentioned, referring to Benedict. “In those cases those priests continued their work without sanctions. The church did not do anything.

“He claims that he did not learn about sure details, though we imagine that this isn’t so, based on what we all know,” Pusch said.

The full report was due to be published on Thursday, after its authors had outlined the key findings.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the current archbishop, was criticized by the panel for declining an invitation to attend the news conference.

Marx offered to resign last year over the legacy of sexual abuse at his archdiocese, but Pope Francis rejected that offer. Marx said he was “shocked and ashamed” by the report’s findings on Thursday.

In a statement, the Vatican said it would await that publication before commenting further. “The Holy See considers that acceptable consideration ought to be paid to the doc, whose contents are presently unknown. In coming days … the Holy See will have the ability to give it a cautious and detailed examination,” it said.

“In reiterating disgrace and regret for abuses dedicated by clerics in opposition to minors, the Holy See expresses its closeness to all victims and reaffirms the efforts undertaken to guard minors and guarantee protected environments for them,” the statement added.

‘A building of lies’

Benedict, now 94, became the first Pope in centuries to resign when he stepped down in 2013. His tenure was overshadowed by a global sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, and the investigators’ findings — which now directly implicate him in a failure to prevent and punish abuse — threaten to wreck the reputation of the former pontiff.

Lawyer Ulrich Wastl presented a copy of the minutes of a meeting of Munich church leaders on January 15, 1980, when a decision was made to take on an abuser the report refers to as “Priest X.”

Ulrich Wastl during Thursday's press conference.

Wastl mentioned he was “shocked” that Benedict denied he was at the meeting, despite the minutes showing that he was. “This is one thing that’s written down,” said Wastl, later rejecting Benedict’s denial as “hardly credible.”

Wastl said Benedict had submitted a statement to the investigation, but gave it little credence, summarizing Benedict’s position as: “You have the proof {that a} sure doc was submitted, however you do not have the proof that I’ve learn it.”

In 2010, the Munich archdiocese said Benedict had no knowledge that a priest working in the archdiocese had committed sexual abuse.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Fast Facts
And in 2019 the ex-Pope wrote a controversial essay on the intercourse abuse disaster within the Catholic Church, claiming that it was caused in part by the sexual revolution of the Nineteen Sixties and the liberalization of the church’s ethical educating.

“I wish to express regret within the title of the archdiocese for the struggling of the final a long time. Abuse has not been taken critically,” said Marx, the current archbishop of Munich.

“Those accountable have turned a blind eye — and now we have recognized that for years,” Marx said in the brief appearance. He did not take questions but said he would hold a press conference next week.

A German survivor of abuse by Catholic clergy hailed the investigators’ criticism of the former Pope on Thursday.

“The constructing of lies to guard Pope Benedict has simply collapsed with a crash. Benedict was complicit within the abuse of quite a few victims after 1980, victims of Priest X,” said Matthias Katsch, who runs the organization “Eckiger Tisch” which seeks justice for abuse victims.

Katsch says he was 13 years old when a priest at his Jesuit school in Berlin first molested him. In 2010, Katsch went public with his story, triggering an outpouring of testimony from dozens, then hundreds of other survivors

Katsch, who told his story to CNN in 2018, was current on the press convention saying the investigation findings on Thursday.

Correction: This story has been up to date to right the date of when Pope Benedict XVI was archbishop of Munich. He held that workplace from 1977 till 1982.

CNN’s Delia Gallagher contributed to this report.

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