Admin l Monday, January 2, 2023
BAVARIA – A lawsuit against Pope Benedict XVI is still nominally set to be heard despite the former pontiff’s death on New Year’s Eve, a court official said on Monday.
“It is true that in principle an interruption occurs with the death of a party,” said spokeswoman Andrea Titz at the Traunstein Regional Court in Bavaria, citing Germany’s civil law code. “In the present case, however, this does not apply, as the deceased was represented by an attorney of record.”
Joseph Ratzinger, who died on December 31 aged 95, had hired a large law firm to represent him in the proceedings. The litigation agent could apply for a stay of proceedings until it is clarified who Ratzinger’s heirs are, Titz said: “Whether such a request will be made, I cannot say yet.”
Last summer, a man who said he had been sexually abused by a convicted repeat offender, known under Germany’s privacy laws as Priest H., filed a civil suit at the Traunstein court.
The suit is not only directed against Ratzinger, who was Archbishop of Munich and Freising at the time when the abuser was transferred to his diocese, but also against the convicted man himself, the archdiocese, as well as Ratzinger’s successor in the office of archbishop, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter.
One of the aims of the lawsuit is to establish whether diocesan officials covered up criminal acts and thereby made further acts possible.
“The lawsuit will continue with the heir or heirs of the deceased,” the plaintiff’s lawyer, Andreas Schulz, also told dpa.
The Sauerteig Initiative, a group formed in the wake of revelations of widespread abuse at Catholic institutions in Germany, which supports the plaintiff, expressed regret that Benedict’s role is now unlikely to be dealt with legally.
“By clarifying his responsibility before a secular court, he could have taken a significant step for the future of the Catholic Church,” the group said in a statement. “The fact that Pope Emeritus Benedict can now no longer render this service to his Church is probably part of the tragedy of his life.”