Pope Benedict XVI's brother implicated in abuse scandal
July 19, 2017, LaCroix International
At least 547 children were the victims of physical and sexual violence in the Domspatzen Choir at the Regensburg cathedral in Germany between 1945 and 1995. After two years of public inquiry, a final report requested by the diocese has been made public.
In light of the vast scale of the sexual abuse and violence scandal in its cathedral choir, the Diocese of Regensburg commissioned an independent lawyer, Ulrich Weber, to report on the misconduct which first became public in 2010.
The final report, which was published on Monday, lists 547 children whose claims of mistreatment between 1945 and 1992 is said to have been “highly plausible". Of these, 500 are alleged to have been victims of physical violence, 67 of sexual offenses and twenty who were victims of both.
Famous for its choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen is a Catholic institution oriented towards musical performance.
“Victims describe the prison school as like a prison or hell,” Weber says in the report.
“Most speak of this period as the worst of their lives, impregnated with violence, fear, and distress,” he says.
Violence was a “daily occurrence", as were “slaps and bloody blows.”
Most of the sexual abuse took place at the primary school during the 1960s. The high school, boarding school, and choir were also affected but to a lesser degree.
Forty-nine offenders were identified, including nine for sexual abuse. In Weber’s view, the primary school principal “personally” as well as his prefects were “responsible for the violence".
Georg Ratzinger, the brother of Pope Benedict XVI, who was director of the choir between 1964 and 1994, was also implicated. He is said to have “turned a blind eye and failed to intervene despite his knowledge of the facts".
Michael Fuchs, the vicar general of the Diocese of Regensburg, defended him nevertheless.
Fr Ratzinger did not know of the sexual violence but simply recognized that had “slapped” students and underestimated the extent of the violence in the institution, Fr Fuchs said.
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who was bishop of Regensburg when the scandal broke out in 2010, was also criticized for having put a brake on the investigation which was launched seven years ago.
“We have made mistakes and we have learned a lot,” Fr Fuchs said on Monday, recognizing that the Church “should have reacted better and sooner".
Several months ago the current bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, begged for forgiveness from the victims. Speaking on behalf of the victims, Peter Schmitte, praised the work that has been completed as a “complete vindication".
To date, 300 people have sought financial compensation from the diocese for the abuse.