Former Pope Benedict to defend himself over abuse cover-up accusation

Former Pope Benedict XVI plans to defend himself in a civil lawsuit.

The lawsuit has been lodged at a German court by a man who accuses him of helping cover up historical abuse.

Back in June, a so-called declaratory action was brought on behalf of a man, then 38-years old. The man said he was abused by a priest as a child.

The complaint names a priest, identified as Peter H.

He also names Benedict, who was Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982, his successor Cardinal Friedrich Wetter and another church official.

The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising has declined to comment on an ongoing case.

A spokesperson for the court confirmed former Pope Benedict would defend himself through a law firm.

The move to defend himself avoids a so-called default ruling from the court.

That does not mean that Benedict, now 95, will appear in court in his defence.

However, a court spokesperson says the court can demand the presence of defendants.

The defendants have until 24 January to respond to the complaint. No date has been set for a hearing.

Andreas Schulz, the lawyer who filed the case, says it sought to establish culpability.

The case argues the Catholic Church and defendants had a Christian duty to acknowledge injustices committed.

“If they don’t, the reputational damage will grow and the Catholic Church will hasten the erosion of faith,” Schulz says.

A report published in January on sexual abuse in the archdiocese from 1945 to 2019 accused Benedict of failing to take action against clerics in four cases when he was Archbishop of Munich.

Benedict, who resigned as pontiff in 2013, has already acknowledged errors had occurred in the handling of cases while he held that position. He has also asked for forgiveness for these errors.

His lawyers argued that he was not directly to blame.


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