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Pope’s Brother Admits Striking Students, Denies Knowledge of Abuse

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The elder brother of Pope Benedict XVI admitted striking members of the German boys’ choir that he led for three decades, but denied knowing that some of the boys were victims of clerical sex abuse.
“I must admit that I often became depressed, because (the boys) did not achieve the results I wanted, and at the beginning I often handed out slaps, though afterwards my conscience pricked me for doing so,” Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, who led the Regensburg cathedral choir from
1964 to 1994, told the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse in an interview published Tuesday (March 9).
Ratzinger denied knowledge of any sexual abuse but admitted knowing that another Catholic priest, the longtime headmaster of the choir boys’ boarding school, gave students “very violent slaps … for very trifling reasons.”
Because the school was an independent institution, Ratzinger said, he lacked the standing to report the headmaster to the authorities.
On Monday (March 8), the Web site of the German magazine Der Spiegel reported charges that the headmaster, identified in press reports only by the initial “M,” regularly administered naked beatings and forced students to participate in group sexual encounters.
The Regensburg choir is only the latest Catholic institution to be embroiled in a spreading clerical sex abuse scandal in the pope’s homeland.
On Friday (March 12), Benedict will meet with Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, president of the German bishops’ conference, to discuss at least 170 abuse allegations involving children at Catholic schools. The charges, which surfaced in January, have prompted prosecutors to launch an investigation.
On Monday (March 8), German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger denounced what she called the church’s “wall of silence” around sex abuse. She specifically cited a 2001 letter signed by Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, which reserved preliminary investigation of abuse charges to the Vatican itself.
The German revelations come amid growing reports of clerical sex abuse in other European countries, including Austria, Ireland and the Netherlands.
– Francis X. Rocca
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • nnmns

    On Monday (March 8), German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger denounced what she called the church’s “wall of silence” around sex abuse. She specifically cited a 2001 letter signed by Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, which reserved preliminary investigation of abuse charges to the Vatican itself.

    Precisely. Pope Benedict/Cardinal Ratzinger has known about these things for a long time but the authorities only learned about them when people came forward. Benedict should be indicted for abetting child abuse but he was given legal immunity because he’s “leader of a country”. What a sad joke.

  • pagansister

    Slapping children isn’t considered abuse??? Benny’s brother wasn’t abusing the boys also, by slapping them?
    Ratzinger said because the school was an independent institution he lacked the standing to report the headmaster to the authorities? That is supposed to be a valid excuse?? There is no excuse.
    This whole thing is just outrageous! I agree,nnmns, Benny should be indicted for abetting in child abuse…but we all know that won’t happen. He sits on his grand throne…and play “God”.!

  • cknuck

    I was slapped on the hand a couple of times in school, not a big deal, I was a handful and had little respect for people who did not command respect. A lot of kids are like that.

  • Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

    http://212.77.1.245/news_services/press/vis/dinamiche/a0_en.htm
    In a press release today by the Holy See’s Director Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ “concerning cases of the sexual abuse of minors in ecclesiastical institutions,” Lombardi parrots the Holy See’s historical response to the church’s widening problems of sexual abuse, particularly of minor children.
    The response continues to be re-active rather than pro-active while minimizing the systemic and endemic abuse of power and authority which has enabled and exacerbated it on the one hand while covering it up whenever and wherever possible on the other.
    The “wide-ranging context” is that in countries from the United States, Canada, Australia and Ireland to Austria, the Netherlands and Germany church authorities have repeatedly and consistently disregarded its own moral and Canon laws as well as the existing laws of the countries in which these horrific crimes against humanity occurred.
    Lombardi does not mention nor does he admit to the well documented widespread cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by bishops and other church officials in many countries like the United States, that makes the church’s sexual abuse problems particularly egregious. If church authorities had done the morally right thing initially how many children would have escaped sexual abuse by a particular priest?
    When are people of good will going to say, Enough!
    When are the leaders and legislators going to change the laws so that justice can be pursued for the thousands upon thousands of victims of childhood sexual abuse who have been unable to access let alone obtain justice?
    In most states and probably in most countries existing criminal as well as civil laws give more protection to sexual predators and their enablers then they do to victims of childhood sexual abuse – by anyone. This is deplorable and should not be. The removal of all statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children is the single, most effective way to hold predators and enabling institutions accountable before the law.
    The state of Delaware in the United States is one of a very few states in the U.S. which has removed all criminal and civil statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children – by anyone. It also legislated a two year civil window for previously time barred cases, again, by anyone. That window closed in July of 2009.
    In a civil suit, unlike a criminal suit, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove that the abuse happened. It is not on the accused individual or institution to prove innocence, at least in the United States.
    Every victim of childhood sexual abuse should have a right to the pursuit of justice at the very least!
    If Delaware can do it other states and other countries should be able to do it and hold sexual predators and any enabling institutions responsible, especially those institutions which chose to ignore their own internal laws.
    I was privileged to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees in support of the 2007 Child Victims Law in Delaware.
    No rules and no laws of any religious organization or denomination should be allowed to trump the laws of a civilized society where the protection of children is concerned.
    The Roman Catholic Church should be held to the highest standard as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a Convention that by any objective standard it has grossly violated for decades.
    Is it time to formalize those violations?
    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Victims’ Advocate
    New Castle, Delaware, USA
    maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com

  • JohnQ

    nnmns-
    Of course the Pope knew. Of course his brother knew. I will allow for the possibility that perhaps there could be a one time naked beatings and forced students to participate in group sexual encounters without a lot of talking about what happened. However, the story says “regularly”. I am not buying the denial even if it comes with a huge cash rebate!
    pagansister-
    Keep in mind this was 16-46years ago. Slapping, beating with a wooden paddle (which in my elementary school was decorated and proudly displayed in the office) were not only common….I think they were the norm. I did not agree with it then…..I still don’t. I am just telling it like it was.
    Peace!

  • nnmns

    There were paddlings where I went to school, and whippings at home. But that was a different age and I wouldn’t call doing it then, rarely, child abuse. I’m on the fence about it done rarely now but there are surely better ways. And to do it because some jerk kid wouldn’t respect you if you don’t is to put the kid in charge. A few kids may have been spoiled that way; just guessing.
    And when you give violent slaps for little reason you should be taken out of the classroom. In many places now, of course, if you slapped a student at all you’d likely lose your job. I don’t know about RCC schools though.
    But this is not about that kind of abuse; this is about a much more serious kind of abuse. And I really appreciate SMPT’s contributions of late. She tells it like it surely is.

  • Goodguyex

    Sister Turlish writes “When are the leaders and legislators going to change the laws so that justice can be pursued for the thousands upon thousands of victims of childhood sexual abuse who have been unable to access let alone obtain justice?….
    No rules and no laws of any religious organization or denomination should be allowed to trump the laws of a civilized society where the protection of children is concerned.”
    On your first paragraph I suggest that the laws of sovereign immunity be repealed so that the 25 million adults who were sexually abused to a signification degree while in public school systems by teachers, principals, coaches, etc can sue the governments responsible for this outrage.
    We will have to raise taxes big time?
    On your second paragraph I wonder what we mean by a “civilized society” regarding the protection of children. Why would a “civilized society allow it’s own laws to trump the protection of children?
    If you wonder what is likely to happen, I think the U.S.A. as we know it will not exist in 10-15 years so all this pontification is a lot of noise.
    Peace

  • Goodguyex

    My father was a public school principal in the late 1940’s and 1950’s.
    He had to deal with tenured pediphile teachers and from what I understand it was not easy.
    Concerning discipline of truant youths- he would go to jail today for what he did then, but at the time everyone thought he was a great man, a good man. And so did I.

  • nnmns

    Strikes me if he had evidence any teacher was an active pedophile he had the responsibility to get him or her out of the classroom. Are you saying he did but it was hard, or are you saying he just gave up?
    “Why would a “civilized society allow it’s own laws to trump the protection of children?”
    Uh, we are a nation of laws. The thing is to adjust laws when they need adjusting. What are you advocating? Vigilante “justice”?
    “I suggest that the laws of sovereign immunity be repealed so that the 25 million adults who were sexually abused to a signification degree while in public school systems by teachers, principals, coaches, etc can sue the governments responsible for this outrage.”
    Just what are you smoking? Injecting? Hooked on Oxycontin like Rush?

  • pagansister

    JohnQ, thanks for pointing out the time frame regarding the paddling and slapping. I taught in an Orlando, FL public elementary school from 1980 to 1986….and the principal had her paddle…which she used. I had to “witness” the application of it once. To her credit, she used it rarely. Didn’t like the fact that even in the “80’s” that some found the paddle necessary at all. Of course, I had nothing to say about it. I heard “horror” stories from FORMER Catholics about the nuns, and their treatment in the RC schools. During my 10 years teaching in the RC school, that had been totally eliminated. Of course, we only had 1 nun teaching there then, rest lay teachers, and she was in her early 80’s. She had taught during the nun’s mistreatment times….used to tell us that they never had a problem with children, with 40 in classrooms etc. I never (out of respect) mentioned that was when you could hit kids.
    cknuck, did having your hand hit make you a better child? Did it stop you from having the problems that you had told us about before you became a Christian? No. So what was the point? Hitting children only tells a child that you are bigger than they are and can mistreat them.

  • cknuck

    I do know that some hitting can save pain. There is a fine. I’m glad you can answer questions for me I don’t quite know, thanks pagan.

  • pagansister

    Some hitting can save pain, cknuck? Glad I had parents who thought differntly.

  • cknuck

    pagan maybe your life was so sheltered there were no pain or threat of pain, others had to learn quickly where mistakes could be fatal.

  • pagansister

    cknuck, for many reasons which I won’t go into here, yes, to a certain extent, my life was sheltered. However, I can’t see that hitting a child helps them learn anything…but as I previously said.. except to prove you are bigger and for a while at least, stronger than they are, so you can hit them when you are displeased with them Teachers, nuns, priests etc. certainly have no business hitting a child for any reason. Never approved of principals with paddles or nuns/teachers/priests with rulers or their hands used to hit children. Yes, having taught, the urge to do so has to be restrained with certain children…I had a few I would have gladly smacked, but it wouldn’t have helped because in many cases, that is what they were used to at home.

  • cknuck

    pagan quote, “I had a few I would have gladly smacked, but it wouldn’t have helped because in many cases, that is what they were used to at home.”
    That is true and I am happy you used discernment in those cases. I still believe discipline in the form of a spanking is helpful not only when it is when a kid gets a spanking but also when they get grace both should be explained.

  • pagansister

    Yes, cknuck, explaining is important when correcting a child…

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