“A widening child sexual abuse inquiry in Europe has landed at the doorstep of Pope Benedict XVI, as a senior church official acknowledged Friday that a German archdiocese made “serious mistakes” in handling an abuse case while the pope served as its archbishop.
The archdiocese said that a priest accused of molesting boys was given therapy in 1980″
Oh we know all about “therapy.”
“and later allowed to resume pastoral duties, before committing further abuses and being prosecuted. Pope Benedict, who at the time headed the archdiocese of Munich and Freising, approved the priest’s transfer for therapy. A subordinate took full responsibility for allowing the priest to later resume pastoral work, the archdiocese said in a statement.
Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he had no comment beyond the statement by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, which he said showed the “nonresponsibility” of the pope in the matter.”
He’s a very busy man.
“The expanding abuse inquiry had come ever closer to Benedict as new accusations in Germany surfaced almost daily since the first reports in January. On Friday the pope met with the chief bishop of Germany to discuss allegations emerging from church investigations and media reports.”
And other sources.
“Allegations of problems in the German church have already come close to the pope, whose brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, 86, directed a choir connected to a boarding school where two former students have come forward with abuse claims. In an interview this week, Monsignor Ratzinger, who directed the choir from 1964 to 1994, said the accusations dated to before his tenure. He also apologized for slapping students. “
“At a news conference following a one-on-one meeting with Benedict on Friday, Archbishop Richard Zollitsch, the head of the German Bishops Conference, said the pope was “greatly upset” and “deeply moved” by the abuse allegations, and urged the German church to seek the truth and help the victims.
The meeting and news conference occurred before the statement from the Munich archdiocese.
Archbishop Zollitsch said the German church had vowed to investigate all allegations of abuse, encouraging victims to identify themselves even if the abuse happened decades ago. In recent weeks, hundreds of alleged abuse victims have come forward.
“The cases are growing every day,” said Thomas Pfister, a lawyer appointed by the German church to investigate abuse cases in the Ettal monastery boarding school in Bavaria. He said more than 100 people had contacted him so far.”
And we all know how slow the wheels of justice are to grind.
“Every day I receive e-mails from around the world from people who have been abused,” Mr. Pfister said, adding that the school had posted his email address on its web site to encourage this. “There has been a very big silence, now they want to have a voice.”
Experts said the scandals could undermine Benedict’s moral authority, especially because they cut particularly close to the pope himself. He led Vatican investigations into abuse for four years before assuming the papacy in 2005.
“Around the World” you say?
“The case in Munich, which was brought to the attention of the diocese by the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, was a result of “serious mistakes,” the archdiocese said in the statement. The priest from Essen, “despite allegations of sexual abuse, and in spite of a conviction — was repeatedly assigned work in the sphere of pastoral care by the then-Vicar General Gerhard Gruber,” who worked under Benedict, at the time Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger.
The priest, identified only with the initial “H,” was moved to Munich in January 1980, where he was supposed to undergo therapy, a decision that was taken “with the approval of the archbishop,” according to the statement. Benedict was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.
In June 1986, chaplain was convicted of sexually abusing minors and given an 18-month suspended sentence with five years of probation, fined 4,000 Deutsche marks and ordered to undergo therapy.
But Mr. Gruber took full responsibility for the decision to reinstate the priest to pastoral work. “I deeply regret that this decision resulted in offenses against youths and apologize to all who were harmed by it,” Mr. Gruber, according to a statement posted on the archdiocese Web site.”
Hey, check out THIS website!
“At the news conference, Archbishop Zollitsch said he did not discuss Monsignor Ratzinger’s comments or the investigation into the choir school with the pope.
Experts said the growing scandal could also undermine a central theme of Benedict’s papacy. “What is at stake, and at great risk, is Benedict’s central project for the ‘re-Christianization’ of Christendom, his desire to have Europe return to its Christian roots,” said David Gibson, the author of a biography of Benedict and a religion commentator for Politicsdaily.com. “But if the root itself is seen as rotten, then his influence will be badly comprised.”
It is unclear how many cases have come to light.”
You want numbers? HERE!
” At the news conference, the archbishop said that the Bishops Conference had sent a questionnaire to dioceses to determine which kinds of abuse cases emerged, not how many, and was awaiting a response.
The scandal is not limited to Germany. This week, two dioceses in Austria suspended five priests pending investigations into allegations they physically and sexually molested students at Catholic schools. On Friday, two members of the Vienna Boys’ Choir alleged abuse; although the choir has no official ties to the church, it is a Catholic cultural icon.
The church in the Netherlands has said it would open an investigation after more than 200 people came forward in recent weeks, claiming they were sexually and physically abused in Catholic institutions. Last year, four Irish bishops stepped down following investigations into systematic abuse in Ireland.
Benedict is expected to issue a letter addressing the Irish, and now broader, abuse situation in the coming weeks.”
Ah Ireland. . .
“On Tuesday, the Vatican spokesman released a note saying that local churches in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands had responded with “timely and decisive action” to allegations.
To many observers, the situation in Europe looked unsettlingly similar to that in the United States a decade ago, when a trickle of isolated abuse cases steadily grew into a widespread phenomenon that upended — and bankrupted — many American dioceses.”
“But in Europe, unlike in Common Law countries like the United States, Canada and Australia, defendants cannot sue the church for negligence.
“When this first started to break in the United States in the mid to late ‘80s and our bishops went to Rome for help in dealing with it, they were basically told, ‘This is an American problem,’” said Nicholas Cafardi, a Canon law expert, emeritus dean of Duquesne University School of Law and the author of “ Before Dallas: The U.S. Bishops’ Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children.”
“But Human nature being human nature it wasn’t logical to say this only exists in the common law countries,” Mr. Cafardi added. “Our legal system brought it to light more quickly, in fact it’s not an American or common law problem, it’s a human problem.”
Mr. Pfister, the lawyer in Bavaria, noted that many of the victims wanted “retroactive justice,” even if the cases are not likely to be prosecuted because the statute of limitations in Germany requires some crimes to be reported within 10 years of the victim’s 18th birthday.
The political debate is brewing in Germany over broadening the statute of limitations on abuse cases.”
Broadening’s an excellent idea.
“Some politicians have accused the Vatican of obstructing civil justice. In the note on Tuesday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, defended the Vatican’s reliance on Canon Law to punish perpetrators of sex abuse.”
Which in my experience means sending them to Palm Springs to run a “clothing optional” hotel.
In the news conference on Friday, Archbishop Zollitsch said that the German Bishops conference believed that any cleric accused of a crime should be handed over to civilian authorities unless the victim specifically opposed it.
He added that the pope supported measures the Bishops Conference was taking to tackle the issue, including participating in a round table discussion with members of the German government and abuse victims scheduled for April 23.
“The holy father was very satisfied with our decisions,” Archbishops Zollitsch said. “I’m grateful for the encouragement he gave me to continue carrying out our measures in a decisive and courageous way.”
Did he now? Well maybe this time he understands the continuance of his entire multi-national corporation is at stake.
And speaking of “Maybe This Time,” being that it’s her birthday — sing us out Liza!