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Ex-archbishop apologizes, denies misconduct in German abuse scandal

A former German archbishop named in a report on sexual abuse in the German Catholic Church has apologized for a "wrong decision" in a prominent case involving a priest convicted of child sexual abuse.

A former German archbishop named in a report on sexual abuse in the German Catholic Church has apologized for a “wrong decision” in a prominent case involving a priest convicted of child sexual abuse.

The former archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, said in a statement released by the archdiocese on Tuesday that the priest in question should not have been employed in pastoral care.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

In other cases, however, he strongly denied any misconduct.

“In six cases there was no abuse,” Wetter wrote. Regarding another case he said: “One name was completely unknown to me.”

The facts of the 21 cases do “in no way provide blanket evidence of ‘misconduct in 21 cases’,” he wrote.

Wetter was archbishop of the diocese from 1982 to 2008. During his term of office, a priest who had been convicted of sexual abuse was transferred to another parish in Garching an der Alz, east of Munich – where he was again alleged to have abused boys. The apology applies to this case.

An expert report commissioned by the archdiocese under his successor Cardinal Reinhard Marx, which was presented last week, accuses Wetter of misconduct in 21 cases.

Wetter did not deny the facts of the cases, but did deny misconduct, said lawyer Martin Pusch at the presentation of the report last week.

The current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, is also accused of misconduct in two cases.

The report documents at least 497 victims and 235 alleged perpetrators.

Since the presentation of the report, headlines in Germany have been dominated by the role of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The report accuses him of misconduct in four cases – and of having given false information. Benedict has since admitted this, saying it was an “oversight” during the editing of his submissions to the investigation.

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