Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict covered up sex assaults of “very gay” and “horny” Vatican prelate: report

Pope Benedict covered up the sexual assaults of a “very gay” and “horny” prelate whom the former pontiff moved from a key Vatican position when a victim denounced the crimes, a German newspaper has alleged.

Driving the news

Bild said Wednesday that it had obtained “confidential emails and documents” that prove Benedict sat on reports of the sex crimes of an unnamed German prelate who was the head of a department in the Vatican Secretariat of State during Benedict’s tenure as pope (2005-2013).

The big picture

The substance of the Bild accusations against the Pope Emeritus is that he hushed up the years of sex harassment the German prelate allegedly perpetrated on priests.

Benedict’s private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, allegedly received several notes about the abuse, but apparently didn’t report them to the proper Vatican authorities.

Instead, Benedict and Gänswein conspired to have the prelate appointed as a papal diplomat and then, subsequently, sent quietly back to his home diocese, where he still resides today.

According to Bild, the complaints Gänswein received are now the subject of formal public prosecution.

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Go deeper

The German newspaper reported on a four-hour long declaration by one of the unnamed prelate’s alleged priest victims, in which that victim described assaults that allegedly took place just metres from Benedict’s private rooms in the Vatican.

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In a nine-page letter to the prosecution, the victim’s lawyer described one of the episodes of abuse.

The episode not only involved deep kisses forced on the victim and groping of his genitals, but also choking and physical violence.

In a separate incident, the prelate is alleged to have placed his penis on a desk and demanded the victim hit it with his shoe.

“A few weeks ago”, Bild added, the victim complained about the alleged assaults to a bishop in the Secretary of State.

“It is terrible that I am not able to rid myself of the images of a horny panting prelate, grabbing my groin and using the moment to push his tongue into my mouth”, the victim said.

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Why it matters

Bild accused Gänswein of having known about the assault for at least seven years, and of having done nothing.

“Don’t be annoyed, just be a bit surprised (…) I hope that these goings-on will not be overlooked for too much longer”, Gänswein wrote to the victim in a 2012 email obtained by the newspaper.

In January 2013, when Gänswein was again informed about the alleged assaults, he confirmed to the victim: “Yes, I received the letter”.

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Gänswein promised to “deal in an appropriately responsible manner” with the accusations, according to a written statement by a police chaplain seen by Bild.

Instead, Gänswein did nothing that turned out to be effective.

Though Gänswein did assure Bild that he told Benedict’s staff manager about the accusations, the latter – when contacted by the paper – said he could not remember the incident.

The bishop of the diocese to which the alleged abuser-prelate belongs confirmed to Bild that he had been told by an unnamed cardinal of the accusations in December 2012.

That bishop admitted the prelate under investigation is “very gay” and “harasses others”.

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For the record

The victim’s lawyer, Alexander Stevens, told Bild that the accusations do “not only concern sexual offences by an individual Roman Church official, but also deliberate intimidation, abuse of office, and the systematic obstruction of office by the church’s highest leadership ranks, whose duty would be the global fight against priests who molest others”.

The victim himself told the paper he was convinced of a longstanding cover-up by the Vatican.

“As inconceivable as it sounds – they did it for the good of the Church”, the victim said, adding that he had also expressed this thought to his superior.

Bild said that in the course of its investigation, another priest in the Secretariat of State has come forward to confirm the accusations.

The lawyer for the prelate concerned, however, denies the allegations.

Bild speculated that Benedict’s cover-up for the alleged abuser-prelate could have been payback for the prelate’s helping to expose the so-called “St. Gallen mafia” of cardinals who pushed for the election as pope of Jorge Mario Bergoglio in the 2005 conclave that finally elected Joseph Ratzinger.

The accused prelate is alleged to have leaked to the press the agreement to vote for Bergoglio.

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Agreements of that kind in papal conclaves are illegal under Church law.

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