Saturday, 13 March 2010

Media reports: Pope helped transfer of suspected sex abuser to his archdiocese, from another archdiocese, while Archbishop of Munich, in 1980

(Catholic Watchdog South Africa; c.f. ABC news (Secular; independent; American) 08 / 03 | March / 2010; Associated Press (American; independent; Secular) 07 / 03 | March / 2010; 09 / 03 | March / 2010; Reuters (Independent; British / UK; Secular) 12 / 03 | March / 2010)

Article by Marc Aupiais

As the sex abuse scandal within the hierarchy of the Catholic church, which had come to world attention in countries such as the United States, and Australia, has now come to shore upon Europe as well, the Archdiocese of Munich, has made statements, which may implicate the pope in the common negligence many of the episcopacy partook in while the alleged mishandling of sexual abuse claims, was still an arcanum to many.

According to media reports, the pope, then Archbishop of Munich and Freising, accepted the transfer of a priest suspected of sexual abuse from the diocese of Essen, to the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising during the January of 1980. Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was only Archbishop at the See of Munich and Freising, until February 15 1982, a period in which no more complaints of sexual abuse were made against the priest in question, who had been transferred into Ratzinger's archdiocese. Scandalously, while it was suggested that the priest receive therapy, Gerhard Grube who was then general vicar of the given See, had waived the necessity of therapy for the priest. Reuters, however notes that there is no evidence that the pope had any part in the decision involving the waiving of therapy, and it does not appear at present that he even necessarily had any knowledge of the pastoral decision not to address the priest's reported need for therapy. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, is quoted by the Reuters agency, as saying that Gerhard Brube takes full responsibility for his decision.

After further accusation of sexual abuse, starting not earlier than August 1982, according to the Reuters agency, the priest in question, was given an 18 month suspended sentence and a fine, after which no more accusations have seemingly been traced.

Under Pope John Paul II (born Karol Józef Wojtyła), and seemingly under previous popes, it was often policy simply to transfer priests suspected of sexual abuse, and to keep these incidents low key in order to avoid negative perspectives emerging about the church. Sexual abuse by persons such as priests, teachers, or others in authority, is often covered up the world over by institutions implicated by these situations, irrespective of creed. It was likely often feared that such a scandal, may increase the persecution of Catholics throughout the world, due to the way the church had thus far been treated by many.

The most recent revelation, made by the church itself, follows the emergence of a media storm which centred on the pope's brother, after it emerged:

That the Regensburg Cathedral's choir which the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, the pope's older brother, ran, had been subject to sexual abuse claims. The claims, reportedly pre-date by several years: the period when the pope's older brother headed the choir, as he noted to La Repubblica, an Italian paper, and he claims he has no knowledge whatsoever of the abuse. He has however noted, that he and others used corporal punishment with pupils, even slapping pupils in the face, and did not believe claims of quite serious corporal punishments, while head of the choir. He notes that at the time corporal punishment was legal. He further claims that he felt guilt about corporal punishment and welcomed it becoming illegal at a later date. Monsignor Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, who heads the Regensburg Diocese, has backed up Rev. Georg Ratzinger's claims that the abuse pre-dated him, in an article for L'Osservatore Romano, he has further claimed that the abuse cases were already public at the time, and are judicially closed. Georg Ratzinger has also denied claims of a climate of fear within the choir.

In the Netherlands, and Germany, the sexual abuse scandal within the church, has come to light, with mass allegations, of about 200 and 170 abuse allegations respectively . The Dutch Bishops, have asked for an independent inquiry into abuse, so as to insure that someone outside the hierarchy looks into the situation, according to Euronews. In Austria, the head of the Benedictine monastery located within Salzburg resigned, admitting to sexually abusing a child decades ago.

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