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Benedict XVI, Cardinal Marx Faulted in Munich Abuse Report for Mishandling Cases…

He said that in two of the cases, clerics committed abuse while Ratzinger was in office. While they were criminally sanctioned by secular courts, they continued to perform pastoral duties, he said, and no action was taken against them under canon law.

In a third case, a cleric convicted by a foreign court worked in the Munich archdiocese. Pusch suggested that Ratzinger knew of the priest’s history.

A Vatican spokesman said on Jan. 20: “The Holy See considers that appropriate attention should be paid to the document, whose contents are presently unknown. In coming days, following its publication, the Holy See will be able to give it a careful and detailed examination.”

“In reiterating shame and remorse for abuses committed by clerics against minors, the Holy See expresses its closeness to all victims and reaffirms the efforts undertaken to protect minors and ensure safe environments for them.”

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Claims that the future pope covered up an abuse case in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising resurfaced earlier this month, more than 10 years after the Vatican firmly rejected the allegations.

The allegation related to the archdiocese’s handling of the case of Hullermann, who is accused of abusing at least 23 boys aged eight to 16 between 1973 and 1996.

The priest, identified in German reports only as “H.”, was suspended from his duties in the Diocese of Essen in 1979 over allegations that he abused an 11-year-old boy.

He was moved in 1980 to the Munich archdiocese. Hullermann was found guilty of molesting boys in a parish of the archdiocese in 1986.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict XVI’s private secretary, told the German newspaper Die Zeit: “The claim that he had knowledge of the previous history [allegations of sexual assault] at the time of the decision on the admission of Father H. [to the archdiocese] is wrong. He had no knowledge of his previous history.”

After leaving Munich archdiocese in 1982, Cardinal Ratzinger served as prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before his election as pope in 2005. He retired in 2013 and has since lived in relative seclusion at the Vatican.

Westpfahl Spilker Wastl produced a report on the Munich archdiocese’s handling of abuse cases in 2010, which has never been published. It announced a delay in the publication of the new report in November 2021, citing “new findings obtained in the recent past” that required an “intensive review.”

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The Munich law firm was previously responsible for compiling a report on the handling of abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Cologne.

After lawyers advising the archdiocese raised concerns about “methodological deficiencies” in the study, Woelki commissioned Cologne-based criminal law expert Professor Björn Gercke to write a new report, published in March 2021.

Cardinal Marx wrote to Pope Francis in May 2021, offering to resign amid the fallout from the clerical abuse crisis in Germany. The pope declined his resignation in June that year.

Marx is a member of the pope’s Council of Cardinals and the coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy. Until 2020, he served as the chairman of the German bishops’ conference.

In April 2021, Marx asked German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier not to bestow the Federal Cross of Merit on him after an outcry among advocates for abuse survivors over the award.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising at a press conference held by German bishops at the Teutonic College in Rome, Oct. 5, 2015. . Bohumil Petrik/CNA.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising at a press conference held by German bishops at the Teutonic College in Rome, Oct. 5, 2015. . Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

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