‘Unfair’ to say ex-pope Benedict covered up church sexual abuse cases — ex-PPCRV head

Philippine Daily Inquirer [Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines]

January 4, 2023

By Jean Mangaluz

MANILA, Philippines — It is unfair to imply that former Pope Benedict XVI hushed up church sexual abuse cases, the chairman emeritus of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPRCV) said Wednesday.

During his pontificate, Benedict was confronted with allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members; he publicly apologized for the scandal.

While serving as Archbishop of Munich in 2022, an independent inquiry claimed he ignored reports of abuse.

Henrietta De Villa, who also knew Benedict personally, said that while she was not privy to the internal workings of the church, she knew the late pope did not tolerate abuse.

“Unfair naman na sabihin na pinagtakpan niya, hindi eh. Kaya nga lang siguro, ika niya, yung nature niya, at may edad na siya. Matanda na rin siya nung inelect siyang pope, na baka wala na siyang lakas na talagang fully implement lahat ng reforms na isinulat na niya,” said De Villa on Teleradyo when asked about her thoughts on the sexual abuse cases.

(It is unfair to say that he covered it up, no. However, perhaps because of his nature, he is that age. He was old when he was elected as pope, so maybe he did not have the strength to implement all of the reforms he wrote fully.)

According to De Villa, Benedict wrote many reforms addressing sexual abuse, emphasizing that there was no tolerance for abuse.

“Most of the reforms being done now, siya ang nagsimula. Siya ang nagsimula to write them down. Tsaka he did not stand for tolerance eh. No, that is very wrong to think that he stood for tolerance,” the former PPCRV chief added.

(Most of the reforms being done now, he started. He started to write them down. And he did not stand for tolerance. No, that is very wrong to think that he stood for tolerance.)

She cited Benedict’s visits to victims of the alleged sexual abuses committed by members of the clergy as an example of how he addressed the scandals, adding that his heart was always with the victims.

“Siguro ika niya mas mabuti pa magbitiw na siya para yung susunod, mag move forward ng mga linagay niyang reporma,” De Villa said.

(Perhaps that is why he resigned, so his successor can move forward with his reforms).

Benedict died on New Year’s Eve, aged 95 years old. He was the first pope in 600 years to resign from his post. Pope Francis succeeded him.