“Former Pope did not do anything against abuse cases”


Central Europe


Photo AFP, Sven Hoppe

Former Pope Benedict XVI did not act after hearing about four child abuse cases within the German Roman Catholic Church. An investigation by law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl into abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising brought this to light.

The Pope Emeritus was Archbishop of the diocese from 1977 to 1982. The Vatican is “full of shame and regret” on the German report. Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict XVI’s private secretary, told reporters the pope emeritus would read the extensive investigation in the coming days.

The report, released this morning, found no evidence of guilt on the part of Pope Emeritus. Still, lawyers at the Chancellery have concluded that the archbishop allegedly mishandled four cases during his tenure from 1977 to 1982. This writes the German Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Benedict, or Joseph Ratzinger when he was cardinal, had told earlier that he himself was not responsible for the cases. According to researchers, however, he was. Two known perpetrators were allowed by Ratzinger to continue their work. Besides, the pope never showed interest in the victims.


An important example from the researchers is the case of priest Peter Hullermann. He was charged with abusing an 11-year-old boy in Essen. He was then moved to Munich by Cardinal Ratzinger to continue his work and stay in touch with children. When Ratzinger went to work in the Vatican in 1986, Hullermann was already known for abusing several children. Even after his sentencing, he was allowed to work with children again in the church.

The head of office of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising Stephanie Herrmann takes the report on child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising after it was presented by law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl. Photo AFP, Sven Hoppe

Besides the Pope, the Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, is also accused of misconduct in two cases. He was “shocked and ashamed,” said the archbishop, according to CNA. Marx offered his resignation to Pope Francis in May 2021 to share responsibility for sexual abuse by Church officials over the past few decades.

Underage boys

Furthermore, the report revealed that there had been at least 497 stories of child abuse, mainly of underage boys, between 1945 and 2019. According to the researchers, a large number of cases have been reported.

The abuse is said to have been perpetrated by at least 235 persons. Current Archbishop Cardinal Reinhard Marx is also said to have ignored at least two abuse cases. The abuse was started by at least 173 priests and nine deacons.

According to Christian magazine PRO, the report was supposed to be published last year. The presentation was postponed by several months due to new findings.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.