Ex-Pope to testify at German sex trial

The West Australian [Perth, Australia]

November 8, 2022

[From Deutsche Presse Agentur]

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI is willing to testify in a sexual abuse trial at a court in southern Germany, a court spokeswoman has confirmed to dpa.

The case targets a suspected paedophilic priest, identified as Peter H under German privacy law; Benedict, who served as the archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982; his successor, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, as well as the archdiocese.

Prosecutors are seeking to establish the culpability of the priest and the other church officials in a historical case of child abuse against the plaintiff, a now 38-year-old man from Bavaria.

A report into the priest released in January details years of abuse by church officials in the archdiocese. Instead of turning the priest over to civilian prosecutors, church officials moved him to other locations, where the cycle began again, according to the report.

The pope emeritus’ decision clears one hurdle on the way to a possible trial. If the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had not taken this step, a so-called default judgement would have been issued, but the court would not have dealt with the accusations against him.

Due to the statute of limitations, the lawsuit can only establish the guilt of the perpetrator and result in damages being imposed.

“If the Catholic Church and the defendants – except for the notorious repeat offender H. – stand by what is constantly stated publicly by all church actors, namely to stand by their Christian obligation and acknowledge wrongs committed, the lawsuit will be successful,” the plaintiff’s lawyer Andreas Schulz told dpa.