Nazi past and alleged concealer of abuses in the Church: all the controversies that dotted Benedict XVI

The emeritus pope Benedict XVI He has passed away at the age of 95. When talking about his figure, his resignation from office after eight years quickly comes out, the first in six centuries, since the time of Gregory XII. Joseph Ratzinger announced his departure on February 11, 2013, leaving as the first pope to openly confront the issue of sexual abuse in the Church, but the controversies ended up also splashing the pontiff.

His past has also been the subject of long debates and discussions, like any German who lived through the Third Reich in his youth, his involvement with the Nazis it was in the air.

The Munich report

“One more time I can only express to all victims of sexual abuse my deep shamemy great pain and my sincere request for forgiveness”, Ratzinger vented in a letter earlier this year. A report indicated that the emeritus pope was aware of four cases of pedophile priests in his time as archbishop of Munich (1977 -1982) and that these, like many others, were only transferred to other dioceses.

The text documents cases that happened between 1945 and 2019which they consider a “horror story” and for which they hold the high ecclesiastical spheres responsible for not having acted accordingly or, even, having covered them up.

Benedict XVI’s reaction to these alleged cases has been considered by those responsible for the report as “unbelievable” and, furthermore, they consider that there was “no recognizable interest” on the part of the ecclesiastic to act against them.

However, Benedict XVI denied the accusation and also recalled his meetings with victims of abuse during his many travels around the world. “Let us publicly pray to the living God to forgive our faults, our great and very great faults”, he implored then.

The transfer of Chaplain Peter H.

One of the protagonists of the report was the chaplain Peter H, transferred in 1980 from the bishopric of Essen to that of Munich-Freising after having abused several minors.

The then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his capacity as Archbishop of Munich-Freising, knew that the chaplain had committed abusesbut still approved his transfer and did not report the case to the Vatican, as would have been his obligation, according to an extrajudicial decree of the Ecclesiastical Court of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising in 2016.

After the transfer approved by Ratzinger, the priest continued with the abusesfor which he was sentenced in 1986 to 18 months in jail, a fact that led ecclesiastical officials to transfer him again, this time to Garching, in southern Germany.

his Nazi past

Ratzinger fought in World War II as an assistant in the anti-aircraft batteries of the Nazi Army. He was 16 years old and ended up dropping out. With the end of the war, an American battalion detained him at his house and sent him to the Bad Aibling prison camp, according to his biographer Peter Seewald.

Ratzinger swore allegiance to Adolf Hitler when he joined the Army, coincidentally, on December 31. However, he did not belong to the Hitler Youth, as has been published on occasion. The emeritus pope never spoke too much about this aspect of his past.

His attacks on marriage equality

Since his retirement, there have been few public appearances by Benedict XVI. In 2021 he reappeared with a new book, The real Europe: Identity and missionwhose prologue has been written by the current pontiff, Francisco.

In it, Benedict XVI points out that Same-sex marriage is “a distortion of conscience”while regretting that this idea has “penetrated deeply into sectors of Catholic people.”

According to Ratzinger, the fact that same-sex marriage had been legalized in 16 European countries at that time meant that this issue “has taken on a new dimension that cannot be ignored.”

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