Was Pope Benedict XVI aware of child sexual abuses? Ex Vatican head accused of inaction

Pope Benedict XVI became the first Church leader to step down from the highest position in more than 600 years in 2013

                            Was Pope Benedict XVI aware of child sexual abuses? Ex Vatican head accused of inaction
Pope Benedict XVI has been living a quiet life in Vatican City and is known as Pope Emeritus (Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI, who served as head of the church and the sovereign of the Vatican city-state from 2005 to 2013, has been accused of inaction over child sexual abuse cases during his tenure, as revealed by an explosive German investigation. German law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl claimed the former archbishop was aware of alleged abuses by priests but the accused remained active in church roles.
The report by the German law firm was commissioned by the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, became the first Church leader to step down from the highest position in more than 600 years in 2013. He had cited exhaustion behind the big move. Pope Benedict XVI, since then, has been living a quiet life in Vatican City and is known as Pope Emeritus. Pope Benedict XVI’s tenure was largely overshadowed by the global sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. 

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Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter's Basilica on February 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Ash Wednesday opens the liturgical 40-day period of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting, penitence and alms giving leading up to Easter. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)


Was Pope Benedict XVI aware of child sexual abuses?

According to CNN, lawyer Martin Pusch from Westpfahl Spilker Wastl said, “He was informed about the facts,” adding, “We believe that he can be accused of misconduct in four cases. Two of these cases concern abuses committed during his tenure and sanctioned by the state. In both cases, the perpetrators remained active in pastoral care." Pusch continued, “During his time in office there were abuse cases happening. In those cases, those priests continued their work without sanctions. The church did not do anything.” He further stated, “He claims that he didn't know about certain facts, although we believe that this is not so, according to what we know.”

The Vatican released an official statement soon after the firm revealed the explosive details saying, “The Holy See considers that appropriate attention should be paid to the document, whose contents are presently unknown. In coming days ... the Holy See will be able to give it a careful and detailed examination.”  The statement further read, “In reiterating shame and remorse for abuses committed by clerics against minors, the Holy See expresses its closeness to all victims and reaffirms the efforts undertaken to protect minors and ensure safe environments for them.” The now-retired pontiff, who is 94-years-old, served as the archbishop between 1977 and 1982. According to the church-commissioned study, at least 3,677 people were abused by German clergy between 1946 and 2014, and the majority of victims were aged under 13.

Pope Benedict XVI attends a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti at his private library on January 14, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican. This is the first time the Pope has received the new Italian President. (Photo by Stefano Dal Pozzolo - Vatican Pool via Getty Images)

‘They cannot allow their reputation to be tarnished’

Social media users soon took to Twitter and dragged the former global religious head over not acting on child sexual abuse cases.

One user stated, “Of course Pope Benedict knew. So did all of the other higher ups in the Church. They protected each other, putting more in harm’s way. We don’t need more reports, we need more prosecutions.” Another chimed in, “We need to stop treating religions (man made institutions) like they are infallible and stop them from hiding behind the 1st amendment. If your pastor has a new 4000sq/ft house and a new SUV, you’re not a church, your a for profit business.”
The next one tweeted, ”Of course he knew. They all knew. And under the name of God allowed it to continue.” Whereas, one added, “Child abuse is the primary objective of the Catholic Church.” One equally furious individual asserted, “In excusable, so very sick of a man of that stature to knowingly ignore the protection of innocent children and demonic Priest!” Meanwhile, another tweeted, “The Catholic Church's whole schtick is based on the lie that they are the sole conduit to goodness and virtue. They cannot allow their reputation to be tarnished, so they cover up for the child rapists in their ranks. The organization is more important to them than justice.” One person concluded, “It goes to the very top as this is a systemic problem.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI arrives at the Canonisation Mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Dignitaries, heads of state and Royals from Europe and across the World are to attend the canonisations. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)