Pope Benedict XVI says he attended meeting to discuss abusive priest

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Pope Benedict XVI confirmed on Monday that he was in attendance at a meeting related to a sexual abuse case in 1980, saying it was a “mistake” that he had previously claimed otherwise. 

Benedict, 94, stepped down as pope in 2013 and was succeeded by Pope Francis.

Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, said on Monday that Benedict was at the 1980 meeting and that his previous claim that he was not there “was the result of an oversight in the editing of the statement” and “not done out of bad faith,” according to Reuters.

“He [the former pope] is very sorry for this mistake and asks to be excused,” Ganswein added.

“He is carefully reading the statements set down there, which fill him with shame and pain about the suffering inflicted on the victims,” Ganswein also said, noting that the review “will take some time due to his age and health.”

Last week, a report on abuse in the archdiocese between 1945 and 2019 said the pope, known then as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, did not take appropriate action against clerics in four reported abuse cases while he was an archbishop between 1977 and 1982, the news service said.

During a Thursday news conference in Munich, lawyers investigating the abuse had questioned Benedict’s claim that he did not recall attending the meeting in 1980, Reuters added.

Lawyer Martin Pusch specifically said Ratzinger failed to show interest in the injured parties involved, Reuters reported. 

“In a total of four cases, we have come to the conclusion that the then Archbishop Cardinal Ratzinger can be accused of misconduct in cases of sexual abuse,” Pusch said, according to Reuters.

“He still claims ignorance even if, in our opinion, that is difficult to reconcile with the documentation,” the lawyer added.

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