Domkapellmeister, Ragensberg Domspatzen, 1964-1994
It's beginning to look like a massive sexual and physical abuse scandal is about to engulf the Catholic Church again, this time in Germany, and involving a private Catholic boarding school for boys aged 10-19 which at the time, was run by former Pope Benedict XVI's brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger.
A lawyer, Ulrich Weber, commissioned by the Ragensberg Catholic diocese, Bavaria, to investigate allegations of abuse made in 2010, has found evidence that 231 boys were systematically sexually abused and subjected to physical abuse including food deprivation, severe beatings and sadistic punishments at the Ragensberg Domspatzen, an ancient Catholic choir school. The school is the official choir school for St Peter's Cathedral, Ragensberg and was founded in 975. The term 'Domspatzen' literally means 'cathedral sparrows'
The investigation was launched when a former pupil, the director and composer Franz Wittenbrink, told Der Spiegel magazine that there was a “system of sadistic punishments connected to sexual pleasure". He told Der Spiegel that it is inexplicable that the Pope's brother did not know of these abuses. The figure of 231 cases of abuse is far higher than the 72 accepted victims offered just €2,500 each as compensation last February. Although the two then-named perpetrators both died in 1986, Weber has now reported a total of ten abusers named by 50 different victims.
At the time of these 2010 allegations, Georg Ratzinger himself admitted hitting pupils in the face but said he had a 'bad conscience' about it. The Vatican dismissed the allegations as a campaign aimed against the pope and the Roman Catholic Church. In 2014 Georg Ratzinger admitted knowledge of the physical abuse which took place while he was director of the school, and asked for forgiveness, but he denied knowledge of any sexual abuse. Due to German law, prosecution of most of the offenders is unlikely because the offences were committed too long ago, but there are now demands for a change in the law so that the Church can be made to pay adequate compensation.
It is widely believed that, as his predecessor, Pope John Paul II's enforcer, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was instrumental in trying to keep the simmering abuse scandal under wraps by threatening bishops and other clerics that their first priority was to defend the Church, a policy he largely followed when Pope. Almost all Catholic diocese worldwide are now embroiled in similar abuse scandals with many declaring themselves bankrupt to try to limit the compensation they have to pay to their victims. Abuse was particularly prevalent in boys schools run by the Catholic Church.
This is the same Catholic Church which claims it gets it moral standards directly from God, demands a say in legislatures the world over and presumes to lecture the rest of humanity on matters of personal and collective morality.
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