Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Friday, March 12, 2010

Pope's former diocese admits error over priest; sex abuse victims respond

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president and founder of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)

It boggles the mind to hear a German Catholic official claim that a credibly accused pedophile priest was re-assigned to parish work without the knowledge of his boss, then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger.

Off hand, we can’t think of a single case anywhere on the planet where a credibly accused predator priest was put back around kids and no one asked or told the top diocesan official – the bishop.

And no church official has ever claimed that a vicar general, as the AP reports, “was in sole charge of staffing decisions.”

Remember three facts:
-- For decades, priests have been in very short supply. Bishops keep very close tabs on their priests.
-- In the 1980s, relatively few pedophile priests were ousted and sent for treatment. It’s extremely unlikely that then-Archbishop Ratzinger would have had dozens of such men to keep track of.
-- The Catholic hierarchy is a tightly-structured, closely-knit institution, not a loosey-goosey hippie commune.

Given these facts, we find it extraordinarily hard to believe that Ratzinger didn’t re-assign the predator, or know about the re-assignment.

When vicar generals and auxiliary bishops become bishops, sometimes they are questioned about abuse cases in their home dioceses. Virtually without exception, they defend themselves by saying, “I was just an underling. The bishop handled such cases.” Now, suddenly, German church officials want us to believe that the Munich diocese operates completely differently.

Sadly, the claim that Archbishop Ratzinger “delegated” abuse to his diocesan underlings is sadly reminiscent of Cardinal Law’s identical, and later disproven claim.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around since 1988 and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)

Pope's former diocese admits error over priest

Associated Press Writers

BERLIN — Pope Benedict XVI's former German diocese said Friday it made a mistake when the pontiff was archbishop in allowing a priest suspected to have abused a child to return to pastoral work. However, it said Benedict was unaware of the decision.

The chaplain was sent to Munich in 1980 for therapy, the Munich archdiocese said in a statement. The diocese says it was made aware of the case by the Munich-based daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Munich, which first reported on it.

The man, identified only as H., was allowed to stay in a vicarage while undergoing therapy - a decision in which then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger was involved, the statement said. It said officials believe it was known the therapy was related to suspected "sexual relations with boys."

However, it says a lower-ranking official - vicar general Gerhard Gruber - then allowed him to help in pastoral work in Munich.

The archdiocese says there were no accusations against the chaplain relating to his February 1980 to August 1982 spell in Munich. However, he was convicted of sexually abusing minors during a stint in nearby Grafing between September 1982 and 1985.

The conviction in 1986 resulted in an 18-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 4,000 marks, now worth nearly $2,800, the archdiocese said.

Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to early 1982.

Gruber told The Associated Press by telephone Friday that he was in sole charge of staffing decisions.

"Personnel matters were delegated," Gruber said. "I decided that on my own."

Gruber also said Benedict would not have been aware of his decision because the case load was too big.

"You have to know that we had some 1,000 priests in the diocese at the time," Gruber said. "The cardinal could not deal with everything, he had to rely on his vicar general."

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests