By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The Vatican has denounced “aggressive attempts” to link Pope Benedict XVI to sex abuse cases that occurred during his tenure as Archbishop of Munich, saying that all attempts to “personally involve the Holy Father in the question of the abuses” have failed.
“ . . . (I)t is evident that over recent days some people have sought – with considerable persistence, in Regensburg and Munich – elements that could personally involve the Holy Father in questions of abuse,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi in a statement released Saturday. “To any objective observer, it is clear that these efforts have failed.”
The pope’s former diocese in Bavaria told Reuters that he was involved in a decision in 1980 to move a priest who was suspected of child abuse. Then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger jointly agreed to the priest undergoing therapy at a rectory in the diocese of Munich and Freising, where he was archbishop from 1977 to 1981.
However, rather than send the priest for therapy as had been agreed, the diocese’s vicar-general, Gerhard Gruber, assigned him to a Munich parish without restrictions. Gruber took full responsibility for the decision, the diocese said.
Fr. Lombardi also addressed criticisms of the norms established by the Church to address crimes committed against minors by clergy.
“It is absolutely clear that these norms did not seek, and have not favored, any kind of cover- up of such crimes; quite the contrary, they initiated intense activities to confront, judge and adequately punish the crimes in the context of ecclesiastical legislation.”
He added: “And it must be remembered that all this was planned and set in motion when Cardinal Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation. The line he followed was always one of rigor and coherence in dealing with even the most difficult situations.”
In conclusion, he said: “Despite the storm, the Church clearly sees the route she must follow, under the sure and rigorous guidance of the Holy Father. As we have already had occasion to observe, it is our hope that this torment may, in the end, help society as a whole to show ever greater concern for the protection and formation of children and adolescents.”
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