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Priest says he was bullied into taking fall for Pope in abuse scandal
Protected - Pope XVI. Photo: DPA

Priest says he was bullied into taking fall for Pope in abuse scandal

Published: 18 Apr 2010 10:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Apr 2010 10:18 GMT+02:00

The church official who initially said it was his fault that a paedophile priest was given succour in Pope Benedict XVI’s former diocese has broken ranks, alleging he was bullied into taking responsibility to protect the pontiff.

Gerhard Gruber was Joseph Ratzinger’s general vicar in Munich during the 1980s, when Ratzinger, now Pope, was Archbishop.

Ratzinger chaired the meeting which decided to offer paedophile priest Peter H., a safe haven in Munich. The priest was also given further positions of trust in the church, and was later convicted of further child abuse.

Gruber’s friends have told Der Spiegel news magazine that when the story came to light last month, he was under immense pressure to take responsibility for the decision in order to shield the Pope from accusations of having helped a paedophile.

The magazine wrote that he was urgently "requested" to take full responsibility in order to take the Pope "out of the firing line."

He wrote in a letter to a friend that he had been faxed a statement that he was to make, though he had been given the opportunity to suggest changes.

Gruber issued a statement in March which said, “The repeated employment of H. in priestly spiritual duties was a bad mistake. I assume all responsibility.”

The implication from the bishopric that Gruber had acted alone in offering help to the paedophile priest, and not turned him over to the police, has greatly upset him, the magazine wrote.

The Catholic church’s handling of repeated child abuse allegations in Germany and beyond has prompted repeated calls for bishops to resign for either not reporting claims to secular authorities, or for making light of charges made by victims.

The latest bishop under such pressure is Heinrich Mussinghoff, bishop of Aachen, whose handling of an abuse claim has been heavily criticised by a child protection group.

The Initiative Against Violence and Sexual Abuse of Children and Youths accuses Mussinghoff of ignoring claims made this January by a 19-year-old man that he was sexually abused as a child by the bishopric’s head of personnel.

Nothing has been done about the man’s claims, the initiative’s spokesman Johannes Heibel said.

“Those responsible should resign because the church has not met its own promises, despite a months-long debate over sexual abuse,” he said.

The accused priest, named only as Georg K., is said to have regularly abused the man and others, even making videos and photos of the abuse. The man’s family has not yet been contacted by anyone from the bishopric, having made the claims.

When Der Spiegel contacted the bishopric for a comment, it was told, “The boy should have contacted us, not us him.”

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:28 April 18, 2010 by Prufrock2010
This is going to unravel like Watergate. Unlike Watergate, the coverup here isn't worse than the despicable crimes, but damn near. This, I predict, is the beginning of the end for Ratzinger.
18:05 April 18, 2010 by wood artist
For those few old enough to remember the Watergate days, this almost sounds like John Dean, the man who was brave enough to tell the truth, the man who was publicly ripped apart by the President's cabel, and the man who ultimately was proven to be completely honest and truthful.

In the words of the good Senator from the time...."What did the Pope know, and when did he know it?"

wa
03:08 April 19, 2010 by pmach
This is hardly Watergate. The Pope will survive this and so will the church after all this is just the tip of the iceberg and not just for the Catholic Church but for many so called trusted institutions. It just goes to show you how many sick people there are in the world and they are every where. People have short memories and even shorter attention spans and this is already getting tired.
05:14 April 19, 2010 by zontar
Pmach seems to think that this is simply a matter of "a few bad apples". It's not. This is a systemic problem. The "bad apples" were recognized, and then, instead of being removed, the farmer shifted them quietly to other baskets. Had the farmer simply thrown them out, then one could say it's just a a few bad apples, and the orchard can go on as always.

This is far from being over. The rot goes all the way to the top--that much is crystal clear to any impartial observer.

If there is any justice in the world, the pope will be arrested (like anyone else who covers up child rape) in England during his Fall visit.
06:41 April 19, 2010 by pmach
Hardly zontar its epidemic in proportion. I am not talking about the bad apples here either. What I am saying is this is hardly isolated and when it comes to pointing fingers at the Catholic Church when and if they feel threatened I would bet your life that they have enough evidence and history to set the world on fire if ever there empire is threatened. You would have to be pretty niave to think that one of the most powerfull institutuions in the world would ever allow its fall without pulling out all stops. This is not about the Pope but the entire administration and past Popes all guilty along with Benedict...do you think that John Paul was unaware, I think not.

They may get battered and bruised but it will be a long day in hell before they fall to this. What I am hearing hear is much like I hear from the best traders in the world who cant understand why the markets go up when all indicators point down, debt spirals out of control, bond markets are on the verge of collapse not to mention the derivative markets yet to fall however all is well in lala land as along as the market goes up the sheeple feel secure in that tomorrow will be like today. The Pope's rain will go on and up despite all who believe otherwise because thats the way it is and the way it will be. You can hope but you can and will be disappointed in the end.

You cant fight the market and you cant fight the Church. This will blow over or another bigger story will devert the masses away from this some how in the very near future.
10:39 April 19, 2010 by Prufrock2010
@ pmach:

I agree with you that the masses are stupid enough to forget about this as soon as another scandal du jour comes along, but some of us are dedicated to ensuring that the issue doesn't blow over until it is fully resolved.

I am curious about your contention that "if they [the Church] feel threatened I would bet your life that they have enough evidence and history to set the world on fire if ever there empire is threatened." What do you mean by that? The Holy Roman Empire is a thing of the past. The church is irrelevant in today's world, other than as a money-sucking mechanism preying on the ignorant and gullible. How is the church going to "set the world on fire?"

Maybe you can't fight the market, as you say, but you sure as hell can regulate it. You can also regulate the church to bring it into conformity with civil and criminal law. The "too big to fail" argument won't work with this criminal organization.
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