Ex-Pope Benedict issues apology after giving incorrect statement in abuse probe

Pope Benedict XVI marks Battle of Britain anniversary in 2010

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Last week, a report was released regarding abuse in the archdiocese from 1945 to 2019, which said then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger failed to take action against clerics in four cases of alleged abuse when he was its archbishop during a five year period between 1977-1982. During a press conference on Thursday, lawyers leading the investigation into the alleged abuse questioned an assertion by Benedict in an 82-page statement that he didn’t remember attending a meeting more than 20 years ago to discuss the case of an abuser priest.

They claimed this ultimately contradicted documents they had in their possession.

But in a statement released today (Monday), Benedict’s personal secretary said the former pope did attend the meeting but insisted the omission “was the result of an oversight in the editing of the statement” and “not done out of bad faith”.

Archbishop Georg Ganswein said no decision was made at that meeting in 1980 about a new assignment for the priest in question but only a request to provide him with accommodation during therapeutic treatment.

The personal secretary said: “He (the former pope) is very sorry for this mistake and asks to be excused.”

Archbishop Ganswein said Benedict planned to explain how the error happened after he finishes a full review of the 1,000-page report, which was sent electronically last Thursday.

He added: “He is carefully reading the statements set down there, which fill him with shame and pain about the suffering inflicted on the victims.”

A complete review “will take some time due to his age and health”.

When presenting the report last Thursday, lawyer Martin Pusch claimed the former pope had done nothing against the abuse in four cases and that there appeared to be no interest shown to injured parties.

Mr Pusch said: “In a total of four cases, we have come to the conclusion that the then Archbishop Cardinal Ratzinger can be accused of misconduct in cases of sexual abuse.”

“He still claims ignorance even if, in our opinion, that is difficult to reconcile with the documentation.”

According to last week’s report, at least 235 alleged perpetrators were uncovered in the Archdiocese of Munich.

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The study also discovered at least 497 victims.

Current Pope France had pledged “justice” for the victims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church.

Benedict, who is now 94 years old, became the first Pope to resign in several centuries when he stepped down from his position in 2013.

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