ROME — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said Monday he had been at a 1980 meeting at which the case of a priest accused of pedophilia had been discussed, contradicting a previous statement made to a law firm investigating how allegations of clerical sexual abuse had been handled in the archdiocese of Munich and Freiburg between 1945 and 2019.
Benedict — then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — was Archbishop of Munich and Freiburg and in charge of its clerics between 1977 and 1982.
Last week, the law firm conducting the investigation, Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, issued a report that found, among other things, that Benedict had mishandled four cases in which priests were accused of sexual abuse.
At a news conference presenting the findings of the report Thursday, a representative of the law firm said Benedict had denied being at one meeting at which the case of a priest who had been sent to Munich from the diocese of Essen to receive treatment had been discussed, even though minutes of the meeting showed he had been present.
On Monday, Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, issued a statement saying that, upon reading the findings of the report, the retired pope had been present at the meeting in question “contrary to what was stated.” Archbishop Gänswein said Benedict had called his previous assertion about the meeting “objectively false,” and that it was not made in “bad faith” but was the result of a mistake in the editing process of an 82-page statement provided to the lawyers.
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