How the clerical sex abuse crisis reached the top of the Catholic Church

Irish Times [Dublin, Ireland]

February 4, 2022

By Sorcha Pollack

In the News podcast: Munich report finds former pope failed to act to prevent abuse

In January, an in-depth report into the Catholic archdiocese of Munich and Freising – a bulwark of German Catholicism – was published, revealing nearly 500 cases of clerical sexual abuse since 1945.

The report accused the now 94-year-old Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI of failing to stop the clerical child sex abuse. German investigators said it is “overwhelmingly likely” the former pope was aware of at least four abusing and paedophile priests during his time as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

As membership of the Catholic Church in western Europe continues to fall, what will be the consequences of this latest scandal within an increasingly fractured church?

The Vatican already sees western Europe as a “dying market”, The Irish Times Berlin correspondent Derek Scally told In the News. “The idea is, which church should we be catering for? The growth areas, in the Philippines or in South America, or in western Europe?

“That’s how they think and I’m not sure whether pressure from Germany will change their minds because their ultimate aim is to keep the Catholic Church together, whatever the cost.”

And could the former pope face criminal charges for his involvement in these cases of clerical abuse?

“People will say, we’re a long way from anything resulting in prosecution, this is a preliminary investigation,” says Scally. “It’s very early days but the fact that we’ve been having this conversation, I think shows how serious things are.”

In the News is presented by reporters Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope.

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