SNAP reacts to the death of Pope Benedict XVI

(For Immediate Release December 31, 2022) 


In our view, the death of Pope Benedict XVI is a reminder that, much like John Paul II, Benedict was more concerned about the church’s deteriorating image and financial flow to the hierarchy versus grasping the concept of true apologies followed by true amends to victims of abuse. The rot of clergy sexual abuse of children and adults, even their own professed religious, runs throughout the Catholic church, to every country, and we now have incontrovertible evidence, all the way to the top.

Any celebration that marks the life of abuse enablers like Benedict must end. It is past time for the Vatican to refocus on change: tell the truth about known abusive clergy, protect children and adults, and allow justice to those who have been hurt. Honoring Pope Benedict XVI now is not only wrong. It is shameful.

It is almost a year after a report into decades of abuse allegations by a law firm in Germany has shown that Pope Benedict XVI did not take action against abusive priests in four child abuse cases while he was Archbishop (Josef Ratzinger). In our view, Pope Benedict XVI is taking decades of the church’s darkest secrets to his grave with him. 

The past few days of ‘death watch’ has been filled with prayerful wishes and special masses to remember the emeritus pontiff. We heard no mention of empathy or sympathy for victim-survivors of sexual abuse during these special intentions. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

Benedict's legacy as pope was already tainted by the global deluge of the sex abuse scandal in 2010, even though as a cardinal, he was responsible for changing the Vatican's stance on the issue. To us, Benedict XVI, the church’s successor to St. Peter, fell off the rock and was implicated in the most notorious scandal in the history of the church. Maybe a lesson learned from this is obvious – if someone is alleged to have abused children or adults, turn them over to secular authorities instead of protecting the church’s image.

CONTACT:  Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386) Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) 

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is



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