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Investigation says Pope Benedict XVI mishandled reports of child sex abuse in 1970s, '80s

By Doug Cunningham
Investigation says Pope Benedict XVI mishandled reports of child sex abuse in 1970s, '80s
Pope Benedict XVI addresses followers for the last time as head of the Catholic Church from his retirement residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on February 28, 2013. File Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A long-awaited report commissioned by a Germany archdiocese was released on Thursday and accuses retired Pope Benedict XVI of mishandling several reports of sexual misconduct during the 1970s and 1980s, long before he became pontiff of the Catholic Church.

The report ordered by the Munich archdiocese identifies four cases in which it says Pope Benedict failed to act to prevent child sexual abuse.

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In one of those cases, investigators with the German law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl said that Benedict had accepted a priest back into the Munich archdiocese after he'd been criminally convicted of sexual abuse.

"In a total of four cases, we reached a consensus there was a failure to act," attorney Martin Pusch said, according to Deutsche Welle.

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Two of those cases included priests who'd been legally charged with child abuse.

One of the cases cited in the report involves Rev. Peter Hullermann, The Washington Post reported. Hullermann was accused of abuse in the 1970s and was transferred from Essen to the Munich archdiocese in 1980, where he continued to do church work with children.

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The report said investigators found nearly 500 cases of documented abuse at the Munich archdiocese between 1945 and 2019.

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Then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict ran the Munich archdiocese from 1977 to 1982. As the report notes, he has strongly denied any wrongdoing during his time leading the archdiocese.

The Vatican said that it will give "appropriate attention" to the investigative report and expressed "shame and remorse for abuses committed by clerics against minors," according to the Post.

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