"Soon I will face the final judge of my life. Although I may have many reasons for fear and fear when I look back on my long life, I am nonetheless happy, because I firmly believe that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and the brother who has already suffered my shortcomings himself". The Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, has just published a letter in which he contributes his reflections in the face of accusations of covering up sexual abuse during his time as Archbishop of Münich.
Benedict XVI accused of covering up an abusive priest when he was Archbishop of Munich
Although in the letter he does not expressly refute them (a subsequent analysis, also published by the Holy See, by a team of collaborators, is responsible for that), Ratzinger does admit his mistake (and that of his team) in denying his attendance at a meeting in which the entry into the diocese of a priest accused of abuse would have been accepted.
"This error, which unfortunately has occurred, was not intentional and I hope it is forgivable. I have already arranged for Archbishop Gänswein to communicate it in his press statement of January 24, 2022. This in no way detracts from the care and dedication that was and is an evident imperative for those friends", points out the Pope Emeritus, who wants to "thank you from the bottom of his heart" for "so much encouragement, so much friendship and so many signs of trust that I could not have imagined".
Among them, he adds, that of Pope Francis himself: "I am especially grateful for the trust, support and prayers that Pope Francis has expressed to me personally. Finally, I want to thank the small family of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, whose communion of life in happy and difficult moments gives me that inner solidity that sustains me".
"It shocked me deeply that carelessness was used to doubt my veracity, and even to present me as a liar," laments Ratzinger, who confesses "our faults and the request for forgiveness" of the Church for their faults. "Let us publicly pray to the living God to forgive our guilt, our great and greatest fault. It is clear that the word "greater" does not refer in the same way to every day, to every day."
"The Lord forgive me"
"But every day he asks me if I shouldn't also talk about today's great and great fault. And he tells me in a comforting way that no matter how great my fault is today, the Lord forgives me, if I allow myself to be sincerely scrutinized by Him and I am really willing to change," says the emeritus.
"In all my meetings, especially during my many Apostolic Journeys, with victims of sexual abuse by priests, I have looked into the eyes of the consequences of a very great guilt and I have learned to understand that we ourselves are dragged into this great guilt. when we neglect it or when we do not face it with the necessary decision and responsibility, as has happened and happens too often", he admits, expressing "to all the victims of sexual abuse my deep shame, my great pain and my sincere request for forgiveness ".
"I have had a great responsibility in the Catholic Church. All the greater is my pain for the abuses and errors that have occurred during the time of my mandate in the respective places. Each case of sexual abuse is terrible and irreparable. To the victims of sexual abuse goes my deepest sympathy and I regret each of the cases".
Pointing to the cover-up in the Catholic Church, the pope emeritus recalls the moment the disciples fell asleep on the Mount of Olives, when Christ "experienced disgust and fear." "That moment is, unfortunately, a situation that is also repeated today and for which I also feel challenged," he concludes.
Vatican clears Ratzinger
Along with Ratzinger's letter, the Vatican attaches an analysis carried out by various collaborators of the Pope Emeritus, in which it is admitted that he was present at the famous meeting of January 15, 1980 in which priest X was discussed, but it is added that "it is not true" that today's Benedict XVI was aware of the abuses.
"The documents show that the fact that the priest had committed sexual abuse was not discussed at the meeting in question. It was exclusively about the accommodation of the young priest X in Munich, because he had to do therapy there. This request was granted. The reason of therapy was not mentioned during the meeting," argue the defenders of the pope emeritus.
Ratzinger's friends also brand as false the statement in the abuse report that accuses the emeritus of perjury: "Benedict XVI did not knowingly lie or commit perjury: in the drafting of the memoirs, Benedict XVI had the support of a group of collaborators ".
"This transcription error cannot be imputed to Benedict XVI as a conscious false statement or a 'lie,' note his collaborators, who maintain that 'it would have made no sense for Benedict to deliberately deny his presence at the meeting.'
Regarding the bad behavior of the Pope Emeritus in three other cases, Ratzinger's collaborators also deny it, arguing that "in none of the cases analyzed by the expert report, Joseph Ratzinger had knowledge of the sexual abuse committed or of the suspicions of sexual abuse. committed by priests. The report does not provide any evidence to the contrary."
"The expert report does not contain any evidence to support the accusation of misconduct or conspiracy to commit a cover-up," concludes the document, which clarifies that "as archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger was not involved in any cover-up of acts of abuse."