Retired Pope Benedict XVI has admitted to giving false testimony in a German sex abuse case.
A report from law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl on sexual abuse in Germany’s Munich diocese criticizes the way the former pope, whose original name is Joseph Ratzinger, handled four cases of sexual abuse by priests in the 1970s and 1980s when he was archbishop there. The report was commissioned by the archdiocese to investigate sexual abuse between 1945-2019.
The law firm said the 94-year-old Benedict strongly denied any wrongdoing upon the release of the report.
But the former pontiff’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, stated on Monday that Benedict was, in fact, at a 1980 meeting about a sexual abuse case in Germany that he previously denied attending.
The law firm’s report noted that minutes from the 1980 meeting, about the transfer of an abusive priest to Munich, recorded Benedict as present and rejected his written testimony that he wasn’t there as “barely credible.”
Ganswein insisted that the omission “was the result of an oversight in the editing” of his testimony and “not done out of bad faith.”
“He is very sorry for this mistake and asks to be excused,” Ganswein said, adding that Benedict will make a statement about how the error happened after he is done reading the nearly 2,000-page report.
“He is carefully reading the statements set down there, which fill him with shame and pain about the suffering inflicted on the victims,” Ganswein said.