FORMER POPE Benedict XVI has admitted to providing false information during an investigation into child sexual abuse when he was archbishop of Munich, but has clarified that it was not done out of malice.
Last week, a report into abuse by catholic clergy in the Archdiocese was published, and contained minutes showing he was present at a meeting in 1980 in which an abusive priest was discussed.
The report by law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl detailed how the former Pope knew about priests who abused children but failed to act when he was Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.
He had previously denied attending the meeting, but has now said in a statement to Catholic News Agency that the denial was "an error in the editorial processing of his statement" to investigators.
He also insisted that no decision had been made at the meeting about reassigning the priest to pastoral duties.
His private secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein said he was very sorry for the mistake, and that the report fills him with "shame and pain about the suffering" inflicted on victims.
Gänswein said Benedict is currently reading the report, which totals 1,900 pages, but requires some time to read it due to its length and his age (94).
At least 235 alleged perpetrators were uncovered in the Archdiocese of Munich, according to last week’s report, which examined sexual abuse and the handling of complaints in the period from 1945 to 2019. The study discovered at least 497 victims.
"During his time in office there were abuse cases happening," said lawyer Martin Pusch at a press conference last Thursday, referring to Benedict. "In those cases those priests continued their work without sanctions. The church did not do anything.
"He claims that he didn't know about certain facts, although we believe that this is not so, according to what we know."
On Friday, Pope Francis pledged to apply justice for the victims of sexual abuse by members of the church.
"The church, with God’s help, is carrying out the commitment with firm determination to do justice to the victims of abuse by its members, applying with particular attention and rigour to the canonical legislation envisaged," he said.