German Catholics open abuse investigation
BERLIN — Catholic authorities in Germany disclosed two major abuse investigations yesterday — one into the renowned choir once led by Pope Benedict XVI’s brother and another, more general look into what everyone, including the pope, knew about the sexual and physical abuse of school students.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Regensburg in southern Germany appointed an independent investigator to examine the allegations of physical and sexual abuse that have engulfed the prestigious Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir, which was led by the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, the pope’s older brother, from 1964 until 1994.
So far, the sexual abuse allegations predate Ratzinger’s term.
Regensburg Diocese spokesman Jacob Schoetz said a Nuremberg lawyer, Andreas Scheulen, would lead the inquiry and all charges will be investigated completely.
“The independent lawyer will thoroughly go through all existing legal papers, all court decisions, and any information available,’’ Schoetz said. “We expect to publish first results within the next two weeks.’’
In addition, the German Bishop’s Conference said it would look into wider-ranging allegations across the country after more than 170 students at Catholic schools have said they were sexually abused decades ago. Other students have complained of physical abuse.
The conference said it had not launched a formal investigation but had called on parishes and church institutions in Germany to conduct their own examinations.
The conference is also seeking expert advice on the issue, prelate Karl Juesten said in an interview.
Those local investigations will also examine allegations of sexual abuse at the choir and look into what, if anything, the pope himself knew in his previous position as the archbishop of Munich.
“We do not know if the pope knew about the abuse cases at the time,’’ Juesten said. “However, we assume that this is not the case.’’