• Germany's news in English

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

The Local · 18 Apr 2010, 10:18

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

“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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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?"

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.
Today's headlines
Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Supermarket Edeka warns of exploding apple juice bottles
Photo: DPA

"Risk of injury" from "Gut und Günstig" sparkling apple juice bottles has forced Germany's largest supermarket to recall the product.

By wheelchair from Syria to Germany: teen's story of hope
Nujeen Mustafa. Photo: HarperCollins-William Collins Publicity/Private

She tackled the gruelling 2,000-kilometre migrant trail in a wheelchair, translating along the way for other refugees using English she learned from a US soap opera. Now this teen is living in Germany and hoping to inspire others with a newly published memoir.

Berlin Zoo to have a pair of pandas by next summer
A recently born panda pair at Vienna Zoo. Photo: DPA

The giant bamboo-eating bears will move into a brand new 5,000 square-metre enclosure in the capital's Zoologischer Garten.

Two new spider species discovered in Munich
Zoropsis spinimana. Photo: rankingranqueen / Wikimedia Commons

It's news every arachnophobe in Munich is no doubt thrilled to hear: two types of spider new to the region have been discovered in the Bavarian capital - and one of them bites!

After woman's body found in barrel, husband may walk free
Franziska S., who went missing 24 years ago. Photo: Hanover police.

A woman disappeared in Hanover 24 years ago, but no one reported her missing. Although her husband has now confessed to her murder, he still may not step foot in jail.

Two injured after army tank falls 50 metres in Alps
A Bundeswehr Puma tank. File photo: DPA

A Bundeswehr (German army) soldier has been severely injured after the tank he was riding in crashed 50 metres down an embankment after going off course in bad weather.

Teen girl stands trial for 'Isis' police stabbing in Hanover
Police guard the courthouse in Celle. Photo: DPA

A teenage girl stands trial from Thursday in Germany for stabbing a police officer, an assault allegedly "ordered" by Isis but which was not claimed by the jihadist group.

Merkel threatens Putin with more sanctions on Berlin visit
Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel created a united front with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin on Thursday to denounce Russia’s “war crimes” in Syria.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd