Admin l Wednesday, February 22, 2023
BERLIN – A German group representing victims of sex abuse in the Catholic Church is demanding access to files held by the Vatican.
The call from the “Eckiger Tisch” (Square Table) group comes after it emerged that there had been an exchange of letters between Joseph Ratzinger – the late pope Benedict XVI – and the Munich archdiocese regarding abuse.
“The new discovery of letters proves how important it would be to evaluate files stored in the Vatican on thousands of cases of abuse from all over the world,” the initiative’s spokesman, Matthias Katsch, told dpa.
He said that the Church – both in Germany and in the Vatican – was resisting external access and independent investigations. “They suspect – no they know – that the evidence of guilt and responsibility of their bishops and priests and popes can be found there.”
The archdiocese of Munich and Freising confirmed on Tuesday, that the letters concern a convicted repeat offender priest identified by the initial H.
In 1986 the then-cardinal Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the priest permission, in a letter he signed himself, to celebrate Mass with grape juice instead of wine.
The archdiocese had previously asked for this special permission, justifying the request on the grounds that the priest had committed crimes under the influence of alcohol in accordance with sections 174, 176 and 184 of the criminal code, which deal with the sexual abuse of wards, sexual abuse of children and the distribution of pornographic content.
Ratzinger, who later became pope Benedict XVI and died on New Year’s Eve, complied with the request, a spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed. “There is this letter of response signed by Ratzinger.”