Benedict XVI's advisor: “He is calm, at peace”

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Stefan Mückl has been close to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in these difficult weeks.

Benedict XVI's advisor
'He is at peace. He knows that he has no legal fault and nothing for which to be blamed. He is calm, though it has been a difficult period.'

He is also one of four experts to whom Benedict XVI turned for help to clarify his role in four cases of abuse during his time as archbishop in Germany, between 1977 and 1982.

The Archdiocese of Munich-Freising gave the task to a legal firm, to study the behavior of its bishops from the end of WWII to 2019, including Joseph Ratzinger's time as archbishop. They concluded that the Pope emeritus did not behave correctly in four cases.

Stefan Mückl examined meeting minutes and Joseph Ratzinger's documents. A total of about 8,000 pages.

Benedict XVI's advisor
'There is no evidence, no proof (to support the accusations). One of the lawyers said so at the press conference introducing the report. They presented “their opinion,” and their opinion is quite debatable. Because upon reading the meeting records and reviewing the report's conclusions, I found no evidence that the then archbishop Ratzinger knew about past behaviors of the priest in question.'

One of the cases was of a parish priest who would take pictures of girls dressing. The priest was subsequently removed from contact with minors after parents reported his misconduct.

Another priest was an exhibitionist and the other two cases involved priests who had been transferred to Munich. One had swam naked in a river. The other was to receive mental help for having committed abuse.

But Ratzinger says he did not know these things. And there are no documents that prove otherwise.

Benedict XVI's advisor
'In the four cases, the accusation is that Cardinal Ratzinger was up-to-date and had done nothing. But that is not true. He didn't know what these priests had done.'

Stefan Mückl explains that canon law at the time was full of gaps. For instance, exhibitionism was considered a sin, but could not be judged by ecclesiastical tribunals.

Benedict XVI's advisor
'Some crimes in civil law were not included in canon law. For example, exhibitionism or showing pornographic material. We have to make a distinction between the legal and the moral levels. The Pope [emeritus], in his memoir, clearly said these crimes, though not legal crimes, were morally reprehensible, sinful and unjust.'

The team of experts who helped Benedict XVI study these accusations in Munich included Stefan Mückl, two canon law experts, Helmuth Pree and Stefan Korta and a lawyer, Carsten Brennecke.



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