• Germany edition
 
Pope's brother oblivious to choir sexual abuse
A file photo of the Odenwaldschule. Photo: DPA

Pope's brother oblivious to choir sexual abuse

Published: 08 Mar 2010 08:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Mar 2010 14:24 GMT+01:00

"I never knew anything," Georg Ratzinger told Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "The incidents that are being talked about go back 50 or 60 years to the 1950s. It was another generation than when I was there."

"It's also another generation than (the one) that currently leads the foundation and the choir," he added.

The director and composer Franz Wittenbrink, a former pupil of the boarding school attached to the Domspatzen (Cathedral Sparrows) choir, has spoken of an "ingenious system of sadistic punishments connected to sexual pleasure" at the school.

In comments published in Monday's edition of Der Spiegel news weekly, he accused a former head of the school of "taking two or three boys into his room in the evenings," giving them wine and masturbating with them.

Wittenbrink told the magazine it was well known what went on at the school, and he "could not understand how the pope's brother Georg Ratzinger, who was master of the chapel from 1964, could not have been aware."

The Domspatzen allegations are part of a widening sex scandal rocking Germany's Roman Catholic Church, which includes allegations of abuse at a number of institutions, including a monastic school in the southern town of Ettal.

Asked about the impact of the scandals, Ratzinger, who is a bishop, voiced concern about a "certain animosity towards the Church" as well as feelings of "resentment and hostility."

"It seems to me that behind these affirmations there is clear intention to speak against the Church," he said in reference to the string of recent revelations in the German press. He told the newspaper that he was "entirely ready" to appear before a court if authorities considered it necessary.

According to La Repubblica and other media, Ratzinger spoke about the scandal with his brother, Pope Benedict XVI, during a recent visit to Rome.

Meanwhile Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said that a "wall of silence" was particularly prevalent at Catholic-run schools because of a 2001 Church directive that cases of abuse be "subject to papal confidentiality."

This meant that allegations of abuse "were not supposed to go outside the Church but instead were meant to be investigated internally," the minister told Deutschlandfunk radio.

Stephan Ackermann, the bishop of Trier, who has been put in charge of investigating abuse by the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference, rejected this, saying that common Church practice was for state authorities to investigate.

None of the priests concerned is expected to face criminal charges because the alleged crimes took place too long ago. At present cases can only be pursued for 20 years after a victim turns 18.

But the expanding scandal at Catholic institutions and new revelations about sexual abuse at a progressive boarding school over the weekend sparked calls from German politicians to extend the statute of limitations for such crimes.

Education Minister Annette Schavan from the Christian Democrats called current laws in question on Sunday. Her doubts about the current legal situation were echoed by Ralf Stegner, the leader of the Social Democrats in the state of Schleswig-Holstein.

“It must be possible keep the unreported cases to a minimum and break the decades of silence,” Stegner told daily Hamburger Abendblatt, adding that statute of limitation rules should be reviewed.

Over the weekend, media reports revealed that between 50 and 100 pupils at the progressive Odenwaldschule private boarding school in Hesse were regularly sexually abused. The news follows a series of revelations about abuse in Catholic schools in Germany, many of which have been deemed beyond court jurisdiction because they occurred decades ago.

However Justice Minister Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger rejected the calls for the statute of limitations to be changed or even scrapped altogether in cases of child abuse.

"I don't think this would be a silver bullet," she said.

AFP/DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:31 March 8, 2010 by Bushdiver
Did no one notice the large amount of ky jelly ordered eah month?
15:06 March 8, 2010 by auniquecorn
it was Dark, I thought it was a flute.
19:16 March 8, 2010 by biker hotel harz
I really can't see what all the fuss is about. Younger boys have been fagging for eons in public schools in the UK, Why shoud German Catholic schools, colleges be any different.

To be honest, I'd be more worried if there was no abuse going on behind closed doors. I mean, it's the norm innit?

I can see this enquiry fizzling out to be honest, especially as the Church is investigating itself ................. a bit like the A10 investigating the Metropolitan Police.
06:27 March 9, 2010 by Thames
I am glad to see so many posts find this situation funny.
07:05 March 9, 2010 by auniquecorn
I´d like to stay and leave a comment, But I´m late for my Organ lessons at school.
17:04 March 10, 2010 by dbert4
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. But up to their arsches in it!
Today's headlines
Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of
The Wiesbaden Museum in Hessen. Photo: DPA

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of

The Wiesbaden Museum was once a collection house for art stolen from Jewish owners by the Nazi. With one painting, they hope to right at least one wrong while bringing awareness to its ongoing restitution work. READ  

JobTalk Germany
When should interns demand to get paid?

When should interns demand to get paid?

After a woman was denied pay for working at a supermarket as an 'intern' for eight months with no wages, The Local looks at the warning signs for abusive internships. READ  

Single parents, common law families on rise
Photo: DPA

Single parents, common law families on rise

The German family structure is changing, with nearly a third of every family no longer living in the "classic model" and big differences in what family looks like in the former East and West, statistics agency Destatis announced on Monday. READ  

Four arrested in raids against Isis
Photo: DPA

Four arrested in raids against Isis

Police raided 15 homes across Germany over the weekend and arrested four suspected supporters of the Islamic State (Isis). They are alleged to have smuggled a teenager and thousands of winter military clothes to the terrorist group's frontlines. READ  

Munich Refugee Crisis
'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'
Hassan, pictured outside the Bayernkaserne with two of his children, arrived in Munich from Syria. Photo: Mariane Schroeder

'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'

Around 300 refugees are arriving in Munich each day, but accommodation centres are full. With authorities struggling for answers, The Local meets those at the sharp end of the crisis. READ  

Train Strike
Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return
Photo: DPA

Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return

UPDATE: Deutsche Bahn trains are chugging along again after a 50-hour train strike cost the service "tens of millions" and brought travel headaches across the country, leaving millions of passengers struggling for transportation over the weekend as well as at least one mass brawl in its tracks. READ  

Foreigner toll to hit motorways only
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt. Photo: DPA

Foreigner toll to hit motorways only

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt plans to limit his road toll for foreigners initially to motorways only, Spiegel reported on Sunday. READ  

Criminals blow Berlin Sparkasse wide open
The damaged bank branch. Photo: DPA

Criminals blow Berlin Sparkasse wide open

Criminals robbed a Berliner Sparkasse bank branch early on Sunday morning - using a bomb. READ  

French retread path to Berlin finance ministry
French Economy and Finance Ministers Emmanuel Macron (l) and Michel Sapin. Photo: DPA

French retread path to Berlin finance ministry

French and German ministers are due to meet on Monday to discuss ways of boosting growth in Europe's two biggest economies, as Paris called on Berlin to step up investment. READ  

Lufthansa pilots to strike for 35 hours
Grounded. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa pilots to strike for 35 hours

UPDATE: Pilots' union Cockpit has called a new 35-hour walkout at Lufthansa starting Monday, hours after a weekend-long rail strike finished. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Travel
This is the man who has stopped Germany's trains
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Expats: Should I stay or should I go?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Which expat foods do you miss the most?
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
How to get hired at a Berlin startup
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,443
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd