Joseph Ratzinger was Archbishop of Munich –  Freising from 1977 to 1982. In 1980 there were about 1200 diocesan priests in that archdiocese.


In 1980 there were also about 1200 diocesan priest in the Boston archdiocese.


In Boston there have been about 200 priests (diocesan and religious) accused of sexual abuse.


Therefore it would be surprising if there had been no abuse in the Munich archdiocese during Ratzinger’s tenure, or that no case of former abuse came to light during his tenure. 


If that is true, it shows a radical difference between the behavior of priests in Boston and in Munich.


Msgr. Scicluna defended Benedict in an interview. Sciculna was the investigator who gathered evidence about Maciel, evidence that convinced Benedict that Maciel was guilty.


Scicluna is correct that Benedict has acted far more aggressively against sexual abusers than any recent pope, and that it is almost unfair that he is bearing the brunt of the criticism. Scicluna does not say it, but John Paul’s failures were egregious.


However even Scicluna reveals failures in the Vatican. 

Between 1975 and 1985 I do not believe that any cases of paedophilia committed by priests were brought to the attention of our Congregation. Moreover, following the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, there was a period of uncertainty as to which of the “delicta graviora” were reserved to the competency of this dicastery. Only with the 2001 “Motu Proprio” did the crime of paedophilia again become our exclusive remit. From that moment Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases, “sine acceptione personarum”. Therefore, to accuse the current Pontiff of a cover-up is, I repeat, false and calumnious. 

It took 18 years to clarify the status of the cases of sexual abusers? I have correspondence between American bishops and Ratzinger during those years. Who was responsible for the delay? I suspect John Paul, and that should be taken into account in the process for his canonization.


Scicluna (and presumably Benedict) clearly does not want bishops to report crimes to the police.

Q: A recurring accusation made against the ecclesiastical hierarchy is that of not reporting to the civil authorities when crimes of paedophilia come to their attention.

A: In some English-speaking countries, but also in France, if bishops become aware of crimes committed by their priests outside the sacramental seal of Confession, they are obliged to report them to the judicial authorities. This is an onerous duty because the bishops are forced to make a gesture comparable to that of a father denouncing his own son. Nonetheless, our guidance in these cases is to respect the law.

Q: And what about countries where bishops do not have this legal obligation?

A: In these cases we do not force bishops to denounce their own priests, but encourage them to contact the victims and invite them to denounce the priests by whom they have been abused. Furthermore, we invite the bishops to give all spiritual – and not only spiritual – assistance to those victims. In a recent case concerning a priest condemned by a civil tribunal in Italy, it was precisely this Congregation that suggested to the plaintiffs, who had turned to us for a canonical trial, that they involve the civil authorities in the interests of victims and to avoid other crimes.

The interviewer does not bring up, nor does Scicluna address, the issue of bishops who have tolerated and enabled abusers. That, even more than the abuse, is the source of the crisis.

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