February 13, 2022 Column Father De Celles

“Pilgrim to the Heavenly City.” Thanks to all who attended
this special event on Friday, February 4. From all the feedback I
received, it was clearly a great success, a very interesting and
enjoyable evening. Thanks also to Henry Wingate for his
presentation, and to the musicians and singers who performed
music from the time of St. Raymond. Many thanks also to Fr.
Joseph Rampino for MCing, and especially to Fr. Rich
Miserendino, from the Diocesan 50th Jubilee Committee, for
coordinating and bringing this to us.

Munich Report. I’m sure you’ve all heard about what the
press calls the “Munich Report” on clergy sexual abuse (issued
Jan. 20), criticizing Pope Benedict XVI for his handling of four
abuse cases when he was Archbishop of Munich and Freising
from 1977 to 1982. Since then the Pope Emeritus has issued a
letter apologizing for any harm he caused. At the same time,
four of his advisors (names below) have issued an analysis of
the Report rebutting all of its accusation, especially as reported
by the press. The following is an excerpt from their analysis (my
IN THE REPORT on abuses in the Archdiocese of
Munich and Freising it is stated that: “Joseph Ratzinger,
contrary to what he claimed in the memorandum drafted in
response to the experts, was present at the meeting of the
Ordinariate on January 15, 1980, in which Priest X was
discussed. And it is claimed that Cardinal Ratzinger had
employed this priest in pastoral activity, even though he was
aware of the abuses committed by him, and thus would have
covered up his sexual abuses.”
This does not correspond to the truth, according to
our verifications: Joseph Ratzinger was neither aware that
Priest X was an abuser, nor that he was included in pastoral
activity. The records show that at the meeting of the Ordinariate
on January 15, 1980, it was not decided to engage Priest X in
pastoral activity. The records also show that the meeting in
question did not discuss the fact that the priest had committed
sexual abuse. It was exclusively a question of the
accommodation of the young Priest X in Munich because he had
to undergo therapy there. This request was complied with.
During the meeting the reason for the therapy was not
mentioned. It was therefore not decided at the meeting to
engage the abuser in pastoral work.
IN THE ABUSE REPORT of the Archdiocese of
Munich and Freising it is stated that: “With regard to his
presence at the meeting of the Ordinariate on January 15, 1980,
Benedict XVI would have knowingly perjured himself, would
have lied.”
This is not true, in fact: The affirmation contained
in Benedict XVI’s memoir that he did not take part in the
meeting of the Ordinariate on January 15, 1980, is indeed
incorrect. And yet Benedict XVI did not lie or knowingly make
a false statement:
In drafting the memoir, Benedict XVI was supported
by a group of collaborators. It consisted of the lawyer Dr.
Carsten Brennecke (Cologne) and the collaborators for
ecclesiastical law: Prof. Dr. Stefan Mückl (Rome), who at the
behest of Benedict XVI examined the documents, Prof. Dr.
Helmuth Pree and Dr. Stefan Korta. The collaborators were
called in because Benedict XVI could not analyze the mass of
issues on his own in a short period of time and because the law
firm in charge of the expert report asked questions that referred
to canon law… Only Prof. Mückl was allowed to view the

documents electronically, and he was not allowed to store, print
or photocopy any documents… After Prof. Mückl had examined
the digital documents (8,000 pages) … a further processing step
was carried out by Dr. Korta, who inadvertently made a
transcription error. Dr. Korta mistakenly noted that Joseph
Ratzinger was not present at the meeting of the Ordinariate on
January 15, 1980. The collaborators … relied on the false
indication erroneously inserted by failing to expressly ask
Benedict XVI if he had been present at that meeting….[and]
assumed instead that Joseph Ratzinger had not been present.
Benedict XVI, due to the great haste with which he had to verify
his memory in a few days, given the time limits imposed by the
experts, did not notice the error…. One cannot impute this
transcription error to Benedict XVI as a conscious false
statement or “lie.”
Moreover, it would have made no sense for Benedict to
intentionally deny his presence at the meeting: in fact, the
minutes of the meeting report statements made by Joseph
Ratzinger.…Moreover, in 2010 several press articles report …the
presence of Cardinal Ratzinger at the meeting. Similarly, a
biography of Benedict XVI published in 2020 states: “As a
bishop, during a meeting of the Ordinariate in 1980, he had only
agreed that the priest in question could come to Munich to
undergo psychotherapy” …
THE REPORT ARGUES that: “The expert report
also charges Benedict XVI with misbehavior in three other cases.
In fact, even in these cases he would have known that the priests
were abusers.”
This does not correspond to the truth, according to
our verifications, in fact: In none of the cases analyzed by the
expert report was Joseph Ratzinger aware of sexual abuse
committed or suspicion of sexual abuse committed by priests.
The expert report provides no evidence to the contrary.
Regarding the case of the Priest X … [and] the
accommodation to be given to him for therapy, the same expert –
in the press conference of 20.01.2022 … [presenting] the abuse
report – stated that there is no evidence that Joseph Ratzinger was
aware of it. To the subsequent question of a journalist whether
the experts were able to prove that Joseph Ratzinger had been
aware that Priest X had committed sexual abuse, the expert
clearly stated that there is no evidence that Joseph Ratzinger had
knowledge. Only in the subjective opinion of the expert
witnesses would it be “more likely.” … An expert responds, “[…]
More likely means that we assume it with a higher probability.
[…]” The expert report contains no evidence for an allegation of
misconduct or conspiracy in any cover-up.
As an archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger was not involved
in any cover-up of acts of abuse.
Benedict XVI allegedly downplayed acts of exhibitionism. As
evidence for this assertion the following indication contained in
the memoir is reported: ‘Parish priest X was noted as an
exhibitionist, but not as an abuser in the proper sense.’ ”
This does not correspond to the truth, in fact: In his
memoir Benedict XVI did not minimize the exhibitionist
behavior, but expressly condemned it. The phrase used as alleged
evidence of minimizing exhibitionism is taken out of context. In
the memoir, in fact, Benedict XVI says with the utmost clarity
that abuses, including exhibitionism, are “terrible,” “sinful,”
“morally reprehensible” and “irreparable”. …Thus, the memoir
of Benedict XVI did not minimize exhibitionism, but clearly and
explicitly condemned it.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles