Lawsuit Against Pope Benedict XVI Will Continue Despite Death

ROME—A 38-year-old German man said that he abused by a famous predator priest was allowed to continue his civil action against the deceased by Benedict XVI ultimate heirs. In November, Benedict says he will protect himself in the case before the German court. Benedict died on December 31 at the age of 95 and acquired a law firm that will continue to represent his estate.

Andrea Titz, a spokeswoman for the Traunstein Court in Bavaria, confirmed that the lawsuit alleges the former pope intentionally ignored complaints about Father Peter Hullermann, who allegedly abused the victim when he was 11 years old.

The victim, who used the pseudonym Julian Schwarz, said the priest showed him pornography and forced him to perform oral sex. When he told his mother about the alleged abuse, she told him not to lie. The victim eventually ran away from home and fell into a spiral of substance abuse.

“He sold his version very well,” the victim said in the lawsuit filed in June. The victim said that the former pope, born Joseph Ratzinger, “was aware of the situation” and did not act. In 2016, the priest was investigated and Vatican judicial authorities determined that Ratzinger and archbishop Friedrich Wetter were in fact aware of the abuse.

Titz said in a statement Monday that the court has allowed the case to continue despite Benedict’s death. “The proceedings will continue against the heirs.” Benedict has no known children. It is unclear whether he left his estate to any relatives, who will now be the subject of a civil lawsuit.

The legacy of the former pope—the first to resign in 600 years—has been marred by accusations that he was willing to cover up and cover for predatory priests. A 1,900-page study conducted by the German church at the end of 2021 found that 235 people in the diocese of Munich were accused of abusing 497 children under the age of 16 between 1954 and 2019. Most of the victims were men.

Before becoming pope, Ratzinger led the Archdiocese of Munich from 1977 to 1982 before becoming head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has also been accused of complicity in decades of cover-ups. As Pope Benedict has apologized for the Church’s history of abuse.

The late retired pope was accused of four wrongdoings, including ignoring a letter drafted by lawyers to several victims of clerical abuse by Hullermann, who was later charged raped 23 boys between the ages of 8 and 16. In January, Benedict admitted that he had mistakenly told German investigators that he had never heard of the complaints, only issuing a statement confirming that as head of the Munich church , he has been notified.


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