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Vatican defends Benedict's record after sex-abuse report

Ex pope fought clerical abuse, listened to victims - editorial

(ANSA) - ROME, JAN 26 - The Vatican has defended Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's record on combatting child sex abuse by members of the clergy after he was criticised in a report released in Germany last week.
    The report on sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising concluded that the former pontiff failed to take action in four cases when he was Archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.
    An editorial on the Vatican News website by Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, stressed the efforts Benedict made to combat clerical paedophilia and his willingness to meet and listen to the victims.
    "It cannot be forgotten that Ratzinger, who as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had already fought the phenomenon in the last phase of the pontificate of St. John Paul II, with whom he had been a close collaborator, and once he became Pope, promulgated very harsh norms against clerical abusers, special laws to combat paedophilia," Tornielli wrote.
    "What's more, with his concrete example, Benedict XVI testified to the urgency of that change of mentality that is so important to counter the phenomenon of abuse: listening and closeness to the victims to whom forgiveness must always be asked...
    "It was Joseph Ratzinger, the first Pope to meet several times with victims of abuse during his apostolic journeys.
    "It was Benedict XVI, even against the opinion of many self-styled "Ratzingerians", who upheld, in the midst of the storm of scandals in Ireland and Germany, the face of a penitential Church, which humbles itself in asking for forgiveness, which feels dismay, remorse, pain, compassion and closeness".
    Benedict has "corrected" his version of events regarding one of the sexual-abuse cases that he was criticised for in the report, regarding a priest who was put into service in the Munich archdiocese even though he was known to be a paedophile.
    The pope had told lawyers that prepared the report that he was not at a meeting in January 1980 when the transfer of the priest to Munich was discussed.
    But the 94-year-old has admitted that he was at the meeting, according to a report by Catholic agency KNA picked up by the German-language version of Vatican News.
    The former pope said the mistake "was not committed in bad faith" but was "the result of an error in the editorial drafting" of his statements, according to the report.
    He is "very sorry" about this and apologizes, the report said.
    Benedict has lived inside the Vatican since resigning as pope in 2013 (ANSA).


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