Ratzinger’s diocese ignored repeated outside warnings of abuse

This is a few days old, but I let it slip through the cracks (Via the NY Times):

The German archdiocese led by the future Pope Benedict XVI ignored repeated warnings in the early 1980s by a psychiatrist treating a priest accused of sexually abusing boys that he should not be allowed to work with children, the psychiatrist said Thursday.

“I said, ‘For God’s sake, he desperately has to be kept away from working with children,’ ” the psychiatrist, Dr. Werner Huth, said in a telephone interview from Munich. “I was very unhappy about the entire story.”

Dr. Huth said he was concerned enough that he set three conditions for treating the priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann: that he stay away from young people and alcohol and be supervised by another priest at all times.

Dr. Huth said he issued the explicit warnings — both written and oral — before the future pope, then Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich and Freising, left Germany for a position in the Vatican in 1982.

Dr. Huth said he had recommended one-on-one sessions, which Father Hullermann refused. Instead the priest took part in group sessions, usually seated in a circle with eight other patients, who had a mix of disorders, including pedophilia. Dr. Huth, 80, said that Father Hullermann had problems with alcohol, for which he prescribed medication, but that he was “neither invested nor motivated” in his therapy.

“He did the therapy out of fear that he would lose his post” and a “fear of punishment,” Dr. Huth said.

The psychiatrist, whom Father Hullermann had authorized to report to church officials about his treatment on request, said he shared his concerns with them frequently. He said the constraints he put on the priest — that he stay away from children, not drink alcohol, and be accompanied and supervised at all times by another priest — were enforced only intermittently.

Not long after the therapy began, Father Hullermann returned to unrestricted work with parishioners. Archbishop Ratzinger was still in charge in Munich, but church officials have not said if the future pope was kept up to date on the case.

After the future pope’s departure in 1982, Father Hullermann was moved in September to a church in the nearby town of Grafing, where he also taught religion at a local public school. Two years later, the police began investigating him on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors.

The court commissioned another psychiatrist, Dr. Johannes Kemper, to examine him and write an expert opinion for the 1986 trial. “Alcohol played a big role,” said Dr. Kemper, 66, who had examined Father Hullermann in his practice for half a day. As a prelude to sexual abuse, Dr. Kemper said, “he drank, and then under the influence of alcohol he watched porn videos with the youths.”

The prosecutor’s office in Munich confirmed Thursday that Father Hullermann was convicted in 1986 of sexually abusing minors and distributing pornographic images, according to a spokeswoman for the office, Andrea Titz, and sentenced to a fine and five years of probation.

Little information is publicly available about the court proceedings. The court file was sealed after Father Hullermann’s probationary period ended. Dr. Kemper said that at the trial the victims waited outside the courtroom and came in one at a time to testify. He did not remember exactly how many victims there were, saying there were “between 5 and 10.”

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