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Church Abuse Report – Reputation of Ex-Pope Benedict XVI. is at stake

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 Church Abuse Report - Reputation of Ex-Pope Benedict XVI.  is at stake


There are only a few days until the report on the abuses in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising will be presented. For the former Pope Benedict XVI. and Cardinal Marx could have consequences. The reputation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. could be severely damaged, the Munich cardinal Reinhard Marx submit a new resignation: Next Thursday, an expert opinion of the Munich law firm Westphal Spilker Wastl on cases of abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising will be presented. This is also attracting great international interest. Above all, the former Archbishop of Munich, Joseph Ratzinger, who has risen to the post of pope, seems to fear for his reputation. The 94-year-old Ratzinger, who lives in seclusion in the Vatican as Pope Emeritus, is probably one of the reasons why he gave such comprehensive testimony and delivered an 82-page statement for the report. Ratzinger was Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982. During this time there was a case of abuse, which today is seen by many as an example of the Catholic Church’s irresponsible handling of the issue of abuse. In 1980, Peter H., who had been convicted of abuse, moved from the Ruhr area to the Archdiocese of Munich. H. was also able to act unmolested in Bavaria and abuse other children. The co-responsibility of the then bishop Ratzinger, but also of the following bishops, is one of the core questions of the report – Ratzinger had statements rejected that he had knowledge of the past history of the priest.

Munich law firm also prepared Cologne expert opinions

It is unclear whether the future pope will be exonerated or incriminated by the report. The content of the expertise is not yet known. The current leaders around the incumbent Munich archbishop Marx do not yet know the content of the report and only want to take a position a week after its presentation on January 27th. Marx commissioned the law firm Westphal Spilker Wastl, which had previously worked as an expert in the diocese of Aachen. They also prepared the report for the Archdiocese of Cologne, which the local Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki kept under wraps for a long time and triggered a deep crisis of confidence. Woelki is currently on a sabbatical – although Catholics in his diocese have left the church in droves after the criticized review, his return is expected in March.

Pope rejects Marx’s first request to resign

How the Munich Cardinal Marx deals with the report is open. Marx already offered his resignation in May last year while Pope Francis was still working on the report – expressly also with reference to misconduct in the abuse scandal. However, Francis refused his resignation. At the time, however, Marx did not rule out another request for resignation – for example, in the event that new allegations came up. But Pope Francis has so far shown little interest in reacting to allegations and misconduct in dealing with abuse cases by exchanging views with leading clerics. He also rejected the offer of resignation from the Hamburg Bishop Stefan Hesse, who had been shown to have made several misconduct in dealing with cases of abuse during his time in Cologne.

ZdK President criticizes Pope’s decision

Irme Stetter-Karp, President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), expressed her lack of understanding for the Pope’s decision on Friday. The ZdK President said that she could not understand Pope Francis’ decisions not to accept bishops’ offers of resignation because of breaches of duty. The damage to the church is “so great that – as in the Archdiocese of Cologne – the faithful have reached the limits of what they can bear.” In Cologne, therefore, the abuse report did not lead to a pacification of the situation there, but to sustained anger against the Catholic Church. Whether things will be different in Munich after the 82-page statement by Pope Benedict and Cardinal Marx’s willingness to resign will probably only become apparent in the weeks following the publication of the report.



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