Ratzinger was rendered speechless by abuse cases

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was sometimes rendered speechless by the clergy sexual abuse cases that came across his desk.

Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, headed the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation, which St John Paul II put in charge of overseeing cases of clerical sex abuse against minors in 2001.

Speaking to Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta rejected past media charges against Cardinal Ratzinger.

Archishop Sciciluna is the head of a board within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that deals with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse.

Before he was named an auxiliary bishop in Malta in 2012, Archbishop Scicluna spent 10 years as promoter of justice at the doctrinal congregation, handling accusations of clerical sex abuse.

Archbishop Scicluna said it is “unfounded and unjust” for some media to have asserted that Cardinal Ratzinger covered up abuse when he was head of the doctrinal congregation.

Abuse cases were being handled “on the level of the local dioceses”, the archbishop said.

“In the 1960s and 1970s, many bishops were basing their decisions on the woefully inadequate theory that these crimes were caused by surrounding conditions.

“And that’s why, instead of reporting the guilty, they moved them from parish to parish. But they remained predators wherever” they were.

After 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger would hold a special meeting every Friday with his staff, Archbishop Scicluna said, to study the cases before them and to launch a trial.

“We all saw his suffering,” which often left him absolutely speechless during the meetings, the archbishop said.

He said the future pope was “indignant as well as deeply affected” by the abuse scandal.

Cardinal Ratzinger condemning it in his well-known Way of the Cross meditation in 2005 when he said, “How much filth there is in the Church.”

In a press conference on the flight back from Mexico, Pope Francis said Benedict XVI deserves applause for his handling of the sex-abuse crisis, particularly in the time before his election to the papacy.

“He was the brave one who helped so many open this door,” Francis said.

Archbishop Sciciluna said every bishop and cardinal should see the film Spotlight which depicts the investigative journalism that exposed the abuse scandal in Boston archdiocese.


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