Georg Ratzinger contributes to culture of silence

Monsignor Georg Ratzinger contributed to a “culture of silence” at a prestigious German boys boarding school.

More than 500 boys suffered abuse at the hands of dozens of teachers and priests at the school that trains the Regensburg Cathedral boys’ choir reports, Ulrich Weber.

Weber, an independent investigator, was appointed by the Regensburg diocese to look into the allegations of abuse.

Weber’s report says 547 boys at the Domspatzen’s school “with a high degree of plausibility” were victims of physical or sexual abuse, or both.

It counted 500 cases of physical violence and 67 of sexual violence, committed by a total of 49 perpetrators.

“Violence, fear and helplessness dominated” the choir’s preschool.

“Violence was an everyday method,” the report says.

“The whole system of education was oriented toward top musical achievements and the choir’s success,” Weber reports.

“Alongside individual motives, institutional motives – namely, breaking the will of the children with the aim of maximum discipline and dedication – formed the basis for violence.”

Weber also criticises Cardinal Gerhard Muller, who was bishop of Regensburg from 2002 until 2012.

The then Bishop Muller had “a clear responsibility” in the “strategic, organisational and communication weaknesses”, Weber says.

In 2012, Pope Benedict appointed Muller to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Decades of abuse

The abuse happened for decades, said Weber, July 18, during a press conference in Regensburg.

Former students of the Domspatzen choir reported that the physical, emotional and even sexual abuse at the school made life there like “a prison, hell and a concentration camp”.

Choirmaster admits failure to act

From 1964 to 1994 Ratzinger was the choirmaster attached to the Regensburger Domspatzen school where serious abuse took place.

Ratzinger, the older brother of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, says he was aware of violent incidents that took place at the school, but not the extent of the abuse.

“Had I known at the time what excessive violence he (the principal at the time) was using I would have said something back then,” he says.

He says choir boys had referred to physical abuse during concert tours, “but their reports didn’t reach me to the extent that I believed I had to intervene.”

He has asked victims for forgiveness for his failure to act.

He also says he did not know anything about the boys being sexually abused.

“These things were never discussed,” Ratzinger told Catholic newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.

“The problem of sexual abuse that has now come to light was never spoken of.”

Ratzinger says he is willing to give evidence to an inquiry into sexual abuse at the school.


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