“I see the old man and his life’s work”

Passau Bishop Stefan Oster defends Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. in connection with the Munich abuse report. At the same time, he criticizes the media’s handling of Joseph Ratzinger, who comes from the diocese of Passau.

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"I see the mistake(s), I see the old man and I see his life’s work (also in the fight against sexual abuse within the Church)!) – and my factually founded esteem for him remains unchanged by it", writes Oster on Sunday on his website.

That Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger in 1980 in a meeting for the admission of the abuser H. from the diocese of Essen was present in Munich has long been known, said Oster. "And likewise it was already known that in this meeting it was not about an employment of H. but about his stay in Munich for therapy."

Employee made "decisive mistake

In the statement on the abuse report "which bear Benedict’s signature and which have more the character of a legal defense than that they have the usual Ratzinger level of language and spirituality", But it is now clear that Ratzinger did not attend the meeting.

Benedict’s correction shortly thereafter shows "that the 94-year-old pope emeritus had apparently relied on employees who, of all things, made a decisive mistake at the crucial point".

"Scandalization over the alleged ‘lie’ is now falling fully on the 94-year-old in the media, allegedly discrediting his entire life’s work"

Oster criticizes a "story made so big by the media with the alleged lie of a 94 year old man". The "scandalizing over the alleged ‘lie’ is now falling full-circle on the 94-year-old in the media, allegedly discrediting his entire life’s work".

The bishop asks: "If you and I are also personally fond of a person – and see that a mistake has happened for which he has responsibility (whether it is to be blamed on him personally I leave open, see above), would we then publicly break the baton on him? Just as large sections of the public, both inside and outside the church, are now doing? Up to the, from my point of view, inappropriate demand to deprive him of honorary citizenship?" Oster asks about the motives: whether to hit the church as a whole or within the church for "a completely different church" want to worry about.

"The usual way of dealing with these issues at the time"

Oster explains, in the ecclesiastical "system for too long there had been "almost no interest in the concrete fate of people" given "those affected by abuse, and little knowledge of their stories".

The other three cases that Ratzinger would be accused of misconduct therefore "testify to a customary way of dealing with these issues and the people involved at the time, and ‘customary’ doesn’t mean that you can find it good today.". Oster emphasizes that he cannot see that Benedikt wanted to cover up. "Of course, this still does not take into account the consequences that some omissions had for the victims." He is therefore curious about the further statement on the expert opinion announced by Benedikt.

The long-awaited abuse report for the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising heavily incriminates current and former officials, including Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Joseph Ratzinger had behaved incorrectly in four cases during his tenure as Archbishop of Munich (1977-1982), according to the investigation by the law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) presented in Munich on Thursday. Archbishop Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the lawyers accuse, among other things, not to have taken sufficient care of cases of sexual abuse.

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