Former Pope Benedict asks 'forgiveness,' ignores personal blame in sex abuse

"This error, which regrettably was verified, was not intentionally willed and I hope may be excused," he said.

Updated: February 8, 2022 - 9:20pm

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote an open letter asking for forgiveness without acknowledging personal blame, one month after a German investigation accused him of "wrongdoing" during his time handling sex abuse cases.

Benedict wrote in a letter published Tuesday by the Vatican that an "oversight" occurred after he initially denied his presence at a 1980 meeting about abuse while he served as Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

"This error, which regrettably was verified, was not intentionally willed and I hope may be excused," he said, adding, "To me it proved deeply hurtful that this oversight was used to cast doubt on my truthfulness, and even to label me a liar."

Benedict, 94, thanked his legal team and supporters before asking for forgiveness in the fifth paragraph of the letter. "... I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my profound shame, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt request for forgiveness," he wrote.

"Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life," the retired pope said. "Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer, for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings." 

The support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a statement criticizing Benedict's letter. 

"To no surprise, Benedict and his advisors wish to recreate a narrative in their favor. The truth is this, it is about protecting the church’s deteriorating image and financial flow to the hierarchy," SNAP wrote. "True apologies are followed by true amends, a concept the church does not seem to be able to grasp."

Benedict's successor, Pope Francis, pledged to bring justice to the victims of abuse last month, Euronews reported.

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