Public Prosecutor's Office in Germany Stops Investigations to Pope Benedict XVI for Alleged Cover-up of Abuse

 The public prosecutor's office has announced the results of their investigation from the Munich abuse report that was published 1 year ago. Accordingly, Benedict XVI was among those accused - as well as another cardinal and a vicar general.
The Munich public prosecutor's office has discontinued its investigations into church leaders in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising in relation to abuse .

This was announced by the authority on Tuesday at a press conference in Munich. Either the crimes were already time-barred or the responsible party could not be proven to have assisted. However, if those affected who have remained anonymous so far still report cases that are not statute-barred, investigations can also be resumed.

The retired and now deceased Pope Benedict XVI was listed as a suspect by the public prosecutor's office in their investigations into the Munich abuse report. "In particular, it was checked whether a person in charge of the church could have aided and abetted a priest's later committed, not yet statute-barred act of abuse through a personnel decision," said the public prosecutor. However, "either no eligible main act can be proven" or such would no longer have been prosecutable due to the statute of limitations, it said regarding Benedict. "Therefore, the accused responsible persons were not questioned in these proceedings and therefore no notifications of the initiation and termination of the proceedings took place," said the public prosecutor.

In addition to the former Pope, two other living church personnel officers were listed as accused: the former Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter , and the former Munich Vicar General, Gerhard Gruber. "The investigations did not result in sufficient suspicion of criminal acts on the part of the personnel managers," which is why the proceedings were discontinued.

Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, Archbishop Emeritus of Munich and Freising, was also listed as a suspect by the public prosecutor's office.

The law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) presented the abuse report for the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising in January 2022. The public prosecutor's office investigated 45 cases on this basis, as she explained.

The WSW report lists 235 alleged perpetrators from 1945 to 2019, including 173 priests. The number of victims is 497. The number of unreported cases is probably much larger. From the point of view of the lawyers, 67 clerics deserved a canonical sanction because of the "high level of suspicion". In 43 cases, however, this was not done. 40 of them continued to be employed in pastoral care, including 18 priests who had been convicted.

The report weighs heavily on current and former officials, including Benedict XVI. Joseph Ratzinger is said to have behaved erroneously as Archbishop of Munich (1977-1982) in four cases. The current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, was accused by the lawyers of not having sufficiently dealt with cases of sexual abuse until 2018. Specifically, the experts also accused the archbishop of not having reported two cases to Rome. According to the WSW, Marx's predecessor, Cardinal Wetter, committed 21 cases of misconduct during his more than 25-year tenure. (Source: