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MARCH 15, 2010 5:27PM

Germany's Catholic sex abuse scandal reaches Pope Benedict

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Bad Toelz  
Bad Tölz, Bavaria 


A CATHOLIC MASS ISN'T normally a debating society, but sometimes enough is simply enough. At Sunday mass at the parish church in the Bavarian town of Bad Tölz, a pastor’s unspeakable past finally caught up with him. It was revealed last Friday that sixty-two year-old Pastor Peter H., who had been providing pastoral care at the church for the past two years, had been tried and convicted of sexual abuse in 1986. Not only had this conviction been kept secret, but the priest’s superior at one time – Joseph Ratzinger, the former Archbishop of Munich who is today better known as Pope Benedict XVI – had knowingly moved this known pedophile from parish to parish. He was finally sent to Bad Tölz in 2008 under the condition that he engage in no “children’s, youth, or altar boy work.” However, he did end up conducting two children’s services at the church and also took part in youth retreats.


As far as anyone knows, Peter H. did “nothing, absolutely nothing” wrong during his previous twenty-one year tenure in the town of Garching, nor is anything known about any inappropriate activities in Bad Tölz. Even so, Peter H.'s colleague, Pastor Rupert Frania, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “I would like to have known about this earlier.”


At yesterday’s mass, Pastor Frania substituted for Peter H. and began a homily regarding his friends case. But as soon as he cited the example of the Prodigal Son and the need for forgiveness, the congregation rebelled. A young couple that was scheduled to be married by the disgraced priest got restless. It appears that they had just learned about the priest’s past from the media. “I can’t listen to this anymore!” the man shouted. “You can’t keep changing the subject!” According to the Süddeutsche, some of the mass goers applauded, others told him to shut up. A debate ensued. For several minutes the congregation discussed the case, and continued after the mass was over. Peter H. has been suspended, effective immediately. His supervisor has submitted his resignation.


The newspaper recently discovered that in 1980 Bishop Ratzinger approved the transfer of the pedophile priest to Bavaria to work in a new parish. The man had gotten an eleven year-old boy drunk and forced him to fellate him. Once in Bavaria he was once more caught in the act and put on trial. Peter H. was sentenced to eighteen months in prison and fined €4,000. In 1982, Ratzinger moved to Rome to become head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and essentially washed his hands of the matter.


This revelation is only the latest in an avalanche of appalling - and frankly mind-boggling - news for the Catholic Church in Germany and the rest of Europe. Ever since reports emerged of systematic sexual abuse at Berlin’s elite Canisius-Kolleg high school last January, stories of rape and fellatio perpetrated by Catholic priests in church-run institutions throughout the country have been bombarding the newspapers on a daily basis. It seems as if anyone who had ever been sodomized by a priest in the past fifty years has suddenly found his voice, making the Holy Catholic Church in this country appear like little more than a stiff-lipped pedophile ring.


But as usual in these cases, the cover-up is even worse than the crime, and for the first time the Pope himself has been implicated. The Church is closing ranks. Today, Archbishop Rino Fisichellal, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Corriere della Serra that any attempt to draw the Pope and the entire Church into the abuse scandal is an act of violence and a sign of incivility. Benedict's story, his life and his writings, speak for themselves.


The pontiff is remaining silent on the charges against him, and this is probably a wise choice under the circumstances. There’s no knowing how much longer this crisis will last… and where it will stop. Just yesterday, new accusations were levelled at the management of the celebrated Regensburger Domspatzen boys’ choir, where it was reported that the endemic physical and sexual abuse the choirboys suffered there did not terminate in the 1960s, as previously believed, but continued at least until 1992. And who was the choir’s “extremely choleric and hot-tempered” director in those years? None other than Georg Ratzinger, the Pope’s elder brother.


Regensburger Domspatzen 
The legendary Regensburger Domspatzen


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I have been meaning to write about this unfolding crisis for weeks now, but I'd need to buy a very fat Rolodex to keep track of all the cases. The nausea is a different problem altogether.
When are they going to grow up and let these guys marry? Jesus Christ, haven't they figured this out yet?
A great job of reporting. It's all so disgusting. Tiger, Massa, Edwards and the Pope. I can't take it!
Some bishops are actually demanding that! Just one of the millions facets of this repugnant story. It makes my head spin.
Excellent reporting, Alan. Keep it up.

As a recovering Catholic, all I can say is "pass the popcorn." This is gonna get interesting. The "move the bastards to another parish and don't look too close" thing now has a direct line to the pope? Wow. Just wow.

I'd love to see Ratzinger get a serious black eye, or maybe even lose his job over this. That would be sweet.

I hope the children keep speaking out, and don't let this go.
I can't believe that simply allowing a priest to marry is going to make him less of a pedophile. If these men wanted sex with women, I'm sure they could find many women who would have sex with them. There is something darker at work here.

The sexual abuse is certainly bad enough. But the decades-long, orchestrated cover-up is revolting, and that is what should make any Catholic question his or her loyalty to such an institution.
Wow, this is always sad. It is time for all things hidden to be unveiled -- and to come into the Light. As they are doing. The healing from all of this will be a whole new issue...
Never trust a Pope who wears Prada.
Letting them get married isn't going to solve the pedophilia problem. they like little kids.they go into any type of work that gives them easy access to kids. Having married priests will somewhat decrease the overall population of pedophiles, but there are pedophiles who are married. There are unmarried pedophiles who get involved with single moms..once again, easy access to the kids.
The church unfortunately, has a long history of condoning this behaviour and sweeping it under the rug. The doors of secrecy need to be flung open and the perverts need to be punished, not moved away to torment a new group of children. Maybe now the church will be seen for all its hypocracy
I agree. It has nothing at all to do with celibacy issues. It has to do with power and control. I, too, am a recovering Catholic, and while I know there are many great priests, nuns and lay people in the church I define it basically as a pedophile cult that wants to punish poor and middle class women for having sex. And just think of all the political power it wields.
I'm speaking as a Buddhist here. Frankly, I completely fail to understand one basic thing. The Catholic church answers unto the Catholic church, period. It has authored laws, established it's own version of morality, and forced this morality upon people for centuries. However, is there any proof that, through the ages this church has stood, that it hasn't always been a haven for all sorts of morally questionable activities?
I mean, be completely honest and objective. How does anyone know with absolute certainty that it hasn't been, as example, a pedophiles paradise for centuries? Until the past few decades nobody has been willing to question anything. Try it and face excommunication, right?
For reasonable, thinking people, there can be no doubt whatsoever that this has been going on since they invented the catholic corporation and men in dresses.
Just as there are certain types who are drawn to certain jobs, there are clearly pedophiles who are drawn to this because they see that they will be in a situation whereby they can get away with all of this child rape, etc.
It is only the intellectually blind who cannot see how the catholic church is set up to perpetuate pedophilia.
There are also those creeps who use this power as a way into women's pants which is just another abuse of power.

To see the truth of the catholic corporation's attitude towards all of these child rapes

You MUST change your caption on the photo of the choirboys. It suggests that the children are not innocent because they may have been abused. Any priest may or may not be guilty, but violated children are also innocent.
Same thing happened to Ratzinger, they kept moving him from parish to parish till he finally made it all the way to Rome.
I know well that there are apples and apples, but when an organized religion screws up, particularly Churches who discriminate against gays who are in love and want to get married, I rejoice in the Church's problems though sorry for the victims.

I just love it when Mormons get crucified for polygamy and the Catholic Churches for their sick Pedophiles hoping their embarrassment speaks volumes.

They are the real abomination, the real bigots, the real discriminators and they are not alone. Other religions are also as culpable.

Read me: http://TheHarvView.blogspot.com
Thank you for posting this article and thanks to Bonnie Russell for the bishop accountability link. As a Catholic I am heartsick over this abuse, but we must face the truth.
we've been all through this in the US and it has basically bankrupt the church both morally and financially. now it is germany and ireland's turn. who do you think is next?
Why do we condemn pedophiles yet celebrate homosexuals and bi- sexuals as just another variation of normal? Don't you all say that people don't choose their sexual orientation, rather it's something they are born with?
The homosexual issue, as it is usually framed, concerns sexual activity between two CONSENTING ADULTS. Pedophilia, while it may also conceivably be inborn in some cases, is something altogether different, wouldn't you agree?
Yeah, I think those pedophiles out to get married. Then, when they as much as fondle some minor, they can do prison time. The Catholic church is a sanctuary for homosexuals and pedophiles. I bet the Pope had his fun too.