A victim of pedophile priest Peter H. has filed a lawsuit against former Pope Benedict XVI. and other church representatives submitted. This was reported on Wednesday by the Correctiv research association, “Zeit” and Bavarian Radio. The pope was “aware of all the circumstances and at least accepted the fact that this priest was a repeat offender,” according to the complaint.
The plaintiff accuses the emeritus head of the church of having used H. in church work with children and young people despite knowing better. Pope Benedict had admitted the priest to his diocese of Munich and Freising during his time as Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger in the early 1980s, although H. was known to have a pedophile record. In Bavaria, the priest then committed further acts of abuse.
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The crimes are largely statute-barred. According to the report, the lawyer of the now suing victim, the Berlin criminal defense lawyer Andreas Schulz, has filed an action for a declaratory judgment in order to establish the guilt of the church. If the court concludes that then-Priest H. abused the plaintiff, the church could be “obligated to compensate him for the damage,” the media quoted the complaint as saying.
According to the report, the lawsuit filed with the district court of Traunstein is also directed against Cardinal Friedrich Wetter and the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Christoph Klingan.
It is controversial whether the Pope Emeritus and former Munich Archbishop Ratzinger can be prosecuted for the attacks. According to the media report, experts give the lawsuit a chance if the church refrains from invoking the statute of limitations, as it had already done in the internal church proceedings. The former Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Wetter, announced that he would not apply for a statute of limitations.
The Munich law firm WSW had in January on behalf of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising report presented. According to this, there are indications of at least 497 victims of sexualized violence in the archdiocese between 1945 and 2019. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. is accused of not having taken sufficient action against abusers in four cases as Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger (1977-1982) of Munich. (AFP, epd)