Papal silence on crisis troubles German Catholics
BERLIN -- German Catholics have called on Pope Benedict XVI to speak out about a stream of sex abuse cases that have shocked the country and plunged the church into its biggest crisis in over six decades.
Pope Benedict has become personally embroiled in the affair, after it emerged that while he was archbishop of Munich and Freising in southern Germany in 1980, a priest accused of sexual abuse in another diocese had been transferred to the area, sent for therapy, and then placed in a parish where he went on to commit other acts of abuse.
The vicar general of the archdiocese from that era has assumed “full responsibility” for the decision, saying there were more than 1,000 priests in Munich at the time and that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was not informed.
Those close to the pope say that dredging up the case now is the work of ‘vicious elements’ who have long wanted to find a connection between the pontiff and the sex abuse crisis. For example, Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who heads the Pontifical Academy for Life in Rome, called attempts to “draw in” Benedict XVI to the crisis a “sign of violence and barbarity”.
As German Catholics ask to what extent the pope might have known about specific cases of abuse, the affair is likely to cast a shadow over celebrations next month to mark the fifth anniversary of the election of the first German to the papacy in 500 years.