After an exchange of letters between the Archdiocese of Munich and Joseph Ratzinger about an abuser became known, the "Eckiger Tisch" initiative for those affected called for the release of files from the Vatican.
"The find of letters also shows how important it would be to evaluate files that are stored in the Vatican for thousands of cases of abuse from all over the world," said the spokesman for the initiative, Matthias Katsch, of the German Press Agency. He also shows why the church in Germany, as in the Vatican, is resisting external access and independent investigations: "They suspect, no, they know, that there is evidence of the guilt and responsibility of their bishops and provincials and popes."
Perpetrator abused children again
On Tuesday, Correctiv and Bayerischer Rundfunk reported on the correspondence concerning the convicted repeat offender, Priest H. As the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising confirmed on Tuesday, in 1986 Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the scandal priest permission, in a letter he signed himself, to celebrate Holy Mass with grape juice instead of wine.
The archdiocese had previously asked for this special permit and justified the request with the fact that the priest had committed crimes under paragraphs 174, 176 and 184 of the Criminal Code (StGB) under the influence of alcohol. The paragraphs deal with the sexual abuse of persons under protection, the sexual abuse of children and the dissemination of pornographic content.
Ratzinger, the later Pope Benedict XVI, who died on New Year's Eve last year. complied with this request, as a spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed: "There is this reply letter signed by Ratzinger." The convicted perpetrator became a pastor in Garching an der Alz after 1986 - and abused children there again. He was employed in the community until 2008, but has since been suspended.
Harsh criticism of Ratzinger
"Ratzinger was in every respect a representative of the system to which thousands of children and young people all over the world fell victim," said Katsch. He had "always had more empathy for the perpetrators than for the victims". "He put the best interests of the church and its abusive priests above the best interests of children. In this case, as in many others."
Ratzinger "always only admitted what could no longer be denied," he said - and ventured a prognosis as to how the ex-Pope's supporters would assess the new revelations: "I have no illusions that the defenders and ardent church-political supporters Benedikt will try again this time to downplay and put the facts into perspective: he signed so many letters every day - thousands of abuse files passed over his desk in 25 years, it was impossible for him to remember every single case - and so on."