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Ex-Pope Benedict could ‘be accused of misconduct’ over his handling of sexual abuse allegations

EMERITUS Pope Benedict XVI could “be accused of misconduct” regarding his handling of sexual abuse allegations during his time as an archbishop in Germany in the 1970s and ’80s, according to a report published today.

Law firm Westpfahl Spilker, which drew up the long-awaited report, noted that Benedict strongly denied any wrongdoing.

It was nearly two years ago that Munich’s archdiocese commissioned a probe into abuse allegations and their handling between 1945 and 2019.

The city’s current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, was faulted in two cases.

Mr Marx’s predecessors include former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who served in Munich from 1977 to 1982 before becoming the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and later being elected Pope.

“In a total of four cases, we came to the conclusion that the then-archbishop, cardinal Ratzinger, can be accused of misconduct,” said one of the report’s authors, Martin Pusch.

Two of those cases, Mr Pusch said, involved perpetrators who offended while Mr Ratzinger was in office and were punished by the judicial system but were kept in pastoral work without express limits on what they were allowed to do. No action was ordered under canon law.

In a third case, a cleric convicted by a foreign court was put into service in the Munich archdiocese and the circumstances point to Mr Ratzinger having known of the priest’s previous history, Mr Pusch said.

A fourth case concerned a paedophile priest whose transfer to Munich to undergo therapy was approved under Mr Ratzinger in 1980.

After being allowed to resume pastoral work, the priest received a suspended sentence in 1986 for molesting a boy.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that the Holy See would not comment until it had read the report in full.

It points to at least 497 abuse victims over the decades and at least 235 suspected perpetrators.

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