Benedict’s apology disappoints and angers

Pope’s apology disappoints

Retired Pope Benedict XVI’s lack of a personal apology or admission of guilt immediately riled sex abuse survivors.

They said his response reflected the Catholic hierarchy’s “permanent” refusal to accept responsibility for the rape and sodomy of children by priests.

Benedict’s letter received a lukewarm reception from bishops in Germany, while victims’ organisations expressed disappointment, anger and dismay.

Victims accused the former Cardinal Ratzinger of still not taking direct responsibility for abuses there.

Bishop of Essen, Franz-Josef Overbeck told the Catholic newspaper Neues Ruhrwort that he fears Benedict’s statement won’t help abuse victims work through what happened to them.

Overbeck said he notes with concern that “people affected by sexual violence have reacted with disappointment and in some cases also indignation to the former pope’s comments on his time as archbishop of Munich and Freising”.

A member of the victims’ advisory board of the archdiocese, Richard Kick, said in a radio interview on Tuesday that those affected by sexual abuse were being fobbed off, while the Pope Emeritus was glorifying himself.

Kick said that Pope Benedict’s statement had caused him “deep indignation and even more frustration”. He pointed out that he had assumed no responsibility for cases in which serial abusers had been reinstated in pastoral care.

In his statement, Benedict asked forgiveness on Tuesday for any “grievous faults” in his handling of clergy sex abuse cases but denied any personal or specific wrongdoing. Yet the Pope’s apology has disappointed and angered victims.

“I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church. All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate.

“Each individual case of sexual abuse is appalling and irreparable. The victims of sexual abuse have my deepest sympathy, and I feel great sorrow for each individual case”.

His statement came after an independent report criticised his actions in four cases while he was archbishop of Munich, Germany.

The ‘Munich Report’ faulted the handling of decades of abuse cases by a string of church officials, including Cardinal Ratzinger.

Benedict, 94, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, headed the archdiocese from 1977 to 1982.

The report faulted Benedict’s handling of the cases and accused him of misconduct for failing to restrict the four priests’ ministry even after they had been convicted criminally.

The Bishop of Limburg, the Most Revd Georg Bätzing, who chairs the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference, tweeted: “Pope Emeritus Benedict had promised to speak out. Now he has kept his promise. I am grateful for that, and he deserves respect”.

The present Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, also welcomed the letter.

But, he emphasised that he took the report very seriously, “which also deals with personal and institutional responsibility, especially with regard to the leadership level” and that he and the diocese would act on the recommendations, together with victim organisations.


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