Former Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI thanked Pope Francis for his “support” in a letter made public today as he responded to the report about sexual abuse committed by priests in Munich from 1945 to 2019.
“I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church,” Benedict said in the letter dated Feb. 6 released by The Vatican, “All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate. Each individual case of sexual abuse is appalling and irreparable.”
In an 8,000-page report of acts commissioned by the diocese of Munich that was released in January, Benedict was accused of not having acted in four cases of abuse committed by priests from 1977 to 1982 when he was Archbishop of Munich and Freising.
Benedict presented an 82 pages defense exposing, from his point of view, what happened in Munich during those years and declared himself alien to the facts.
In the letter translated into different languages, Benedict speaks of the “great guilt” of those who commit abuses but also for those who have not faced them and he apologizes.
“Once again, I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my profound shame, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt request for forgiveness. The victims of sexual abuse have my deepest sympathy and I feel great sorrow for each individual case.”
He also responds to those who accused him of being a liar after the admission of his participation in a meeting in 1980 in which there was talk of an abuser priest welcomed into the diocese.
“Amid the massive work of those days – the development of my position – an oversight occurred regarding my participation in the chancery meeting of 15 January 1980.
“This error, which regrettably was verified, was not intentionally willed and I hope may be excused. I then arranged for Archbishop (Georg) Gänswein to make it known in the press statement of 24 January last. In no way does it detract from the care and diligence that, for those friends, were and continue to be an evident and absolute imperative. To me it proved deeply hurtful that this oversight was used to cast doubt on my truthfulness, and even to label me a liar,” he said.
Benedict, who is 95 and in frail health, resigned in 2013 in a shocking move.
He is the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, saying he no longer had the energy to lead the Catholic Church.
Since then, he has been living in a monastery within Vatican grounds, mostly shut away from the public eye.
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