Including the former Pope of the Vatican.. The German judiciary is looking into the possible involvement of 42 church officials in cases of sexual assault
The Munich Prosecution announced that it is looking into the possibility of 42 Christian clerics being involved in cases of sexual abuse of children in Germany, a day after the issuance of a report accusing senior church officials, including former Pope Benedict XVI, of inaction.
Prosecutor’s spokeswoman Anne Liding said that the law firm “Westfal Spilker Wassel”, which prepared this report at the request of the Catholic Church, put at the “prosecution’s disposal” elements that lead to the suspicion of 42 church officials.
Liding explained – in statements to Agence France-Presse – that these cases form part of the report and relate especially to church officials who are still alive and have been referred (to the prosecution) in a highly confidential manner.
She added that if the Public Prosecution finds that the Penal Code applies to these cases, it will ask the aforementioned law firm for additional information, pointing out that the Public Prosecution is studying the case data on an ongoing basis.
Church cover up
On Thursday, the authors of the report denounced the systematic and “terrifying” cover-up of cases of sexual abuse of minors in the Diocese of Munich and Freising, considering that the diocese officials did not, in several cases, take any step to prevent the abuse of children.
The report accuses Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the name of the Pope before he assumed office) of refraining from taking any action to exclude other clergymen suspected of sexual violence against minors in this diocese, which he presided between 1977 and 1982.
In his response to the lawyers’ report, the 94-year-old Pope Emeritus, who has resided in the Vatican and has been away from public life since 2013, expressed his “strong” refusal to hold him responsible for these violations.
A statement issued by the former pope’s spokesman said the pope was not aware of the report and would examine it in the coming days.
Based on the available archives and testimonies, lawyers counted 497 victims between 1945 and 2019, most of them boys, and 235 defendants, most of whom were priests.
On Friday, a spokeswoman for the German chancellery, Christian Hoffmann, said that what the Munich lawyers had done shows again, clearly and in a shocking way, the dimension taken by these abuses and the failure of church officials to do their duty.
Hoffman added – in a press conference – that the government demands full and transparent disclosure of the church’s responsibility.
And the government commissioner in charge of sexual assault issues, Johannes Wilhelm Roerig, considered that political officials had so far shown a “reluctance” to intervene to address similar cases in the Church.
The Catholic Church has long been accused of numerous accusations of sexual abuse against children in a number of countries, as a French national commission investigating sexual abuse of children in the “Jean-Marc Sauvier” church revealed that between 2,900 and 3,200 perpetrators of sexual crimes against children were priests and other clergy in the Catholic Church. .
The head of the French National Committee said that this is the minimum estimate based on the census and examination of documents of the Church, the judiciary, the judicial police, the press and the testimonies received by the commission of inquiry.