• By The Financial District

Ex-Pope Benedict XVI Quizzed On German Child Abuse Inquiry

A potentially explosive report into the handling of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church will be published in Germany on Thursday, with former pope Benedict XVI among those in the spotlight, Femke Colborne reported for Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Photo Insert: Ex-pope Benedict's civilian name is Josef Ratzinger

The report by law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) will analyze how abuse cases were dealt with in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising between 1945 and 2019. The Munich archdiocese, which commissioned the report, said it will examine "whether those responsible complied with legal requirements... and acted appropriately in dealing with suspected cases and possible perpetrators".

Ex-pope Benedict -- whose civilian name is Josef Ratzinger -- was the archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982. During this time, a now-notorious pedophile priest named Peter Hullermann was transferred to Munich from Essen in western Germany where he had been accused of abusing an 11-year-old boy.

Hullermann was reassigned to pastoral duties despite his history. The reformist Catholic group "Wir sind Kirche" (We are Church) called on the ex-pontiff to take responsibility for what happened while he was in charge of the Munich diocese.

In 1986, by which time Ratzinger had been transferred to the Vatican, Hullermann was convicted of molesting more children and given a suspended prison sentence. Even after the conviction, he continued to work with children for many years and his case is regarded as a pertinent example of the mishandling of abuse by the church.

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Benedict has denied knowing about the priest's history. The ex-pope has provided an 82-page statement in response to questions from WSW, according to German media reports. The pope emeritus "takes the fates of the abuse victims very much to heart" and is fully "in favor of the publication of the Munich report," his spokesman Georg Gaenswein told the Bild daily.

Benedict, 94, in 2013 became the first pope ever to step down from the role in 600 years and now lives a secluded life in a former convent inside the grounds of the Vatican.

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