Former Pope Benedict XVI apologizes to sex abuse victims

Former Pope Benedict XVI asked for forgiveness from victims of sexual abuse in Catholic churches in a statement published Tuesday.

“I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my profound shame, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt request for forgiveness,” Benedict said.

“I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church. All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate,” Benedict added.

Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, was accused last month in an investigative report of failing to act over child sexual abuse during his time as archbishop of Munich. But despite his apologies, Benedict’s legal advisers also on Tuesday released a “fact check,” hitting back at specific allegations of a cover-up against the 94-year-old former pope.

“In none of the cases examined by the expert opinion did Joseph Ratzinger have knowledge of acts or suspicion of acts of sexual abuse of priests. The expert opinion presents no evidence that it is otherwise,” the so-called fact check said. Benedict claimed to be unaware of the child-abusing behavior of a priest who remained in pastoral care roles under his watch in the diocese of Munich and Freising.

Yet, the former pope admitted that he had attended a meeting in which the child-abusing past of that priest was discussed and that he had previously provided false information. He later said his wrong statement was the “result of an oversight in the editing of his statement.”

According to the report, presented on January 20, at least 497 children and adolescents were sexually abused by priests, deacons or other Church employees in the Archdiocese of Munich between 1945 and 2019.

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