In the coming days, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will extensively read the recently released report on the handling of abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

That report accuses the retired pope of mishandling four cases during his time as Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

“In a total of four cases, we concluded that the then-archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger, can be accused of misconduct.”

Benedict XVI sent 82 pages of observations to the investigators that compiled the report, and strongly denies any allegations of a cover-up of cases.

His personal secretary Archbishop Georg Ganswein said: “Benedict XVI did not have access until this afternoon to the report of the law firm Westpfahl-Spilker-Wastl, which has more than 1,000 pages. In the coming days, he will examine the text with the necessary attention.”

Ganswein added that Benedict XVI is praying for victims, and decries all abuse by clergy.

“The pope emeritus, as he has already repeated several times during the years of his pontificate, expresses his shock and shame at the abuse of minors committed by clerics, and expresses his personal closeness and prayer for all the victims, some of whom he has met on the occasion of his apostolic journeys.” 

One case in the report, the “H” case, is related to Father Peter Hullerman, accused of abusing at least 23 boys aged 8 to 16 between 1973 to 1996.

Ganswein told German newspaper Die Zeit in early January Benedict XVI knew nothing of this:

“The claim that he had knowledge of the previous history of allegations of sexual assault at the time of the decision on the admission of Father H. to the archdiocese is wrong. He had no knowledge of his previous history.”

A Vatican spokesman also commented about the release of the report:

“The Holy See considers that appropriate attention should be paid to the document, whose contents are presently unknown. In coming days, following its publication, the Holy See will be able to give it a careful and detailed examination. 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.”

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