After earlier reporting on a Catholic preschool denying the children of lesbians re-enrollment, and Dutch bishops launching an independent investigation into allegations of child abuse by clergy, I read that the Pope's own brother, Rev. Georg Ratzinger, 86, has admitted physically abusing children years ago and ignoring children who reported being abused by school administrators, while implying ignorance about any sexual abuse of members of the Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir, of which he was director in the 1960's.
Last week, the Regensburg Diocese said a former singer at the choir had come forward with allegations of sexual abuse in the early 1960s. And across Germany, more than 170 students have claimed they were sexually abused at several Catholic high schools.I won't go into the lengthy and inflamed rant about the secondary trauma of silence that's boiling up inside me at the moment, and instead just note I find the careful wording here interesting. Certainly we are meant to understand that he wasn't aware of it (and the AP helpfully adds that interpretation), but saying that something wasn't discussed, "the problem of sexual abuse...was never spoken of," is actually quite different from saying he was unaware of it. Not knowing and not talking about it are two entirely different things, to which anyone with a family who likes to keep secrets can attest.
Ratzinger has repeatedly said the sexual abuse allegations date from before his tenure as choir director. Asked in the interview Tuesday whether he knew of them, Ratzinger insisted he was not aware of the problem.
"These things were never discussed," Ratzinger told Tuesday's Passauer Neue Presse German daily. "The problem of sexual abuse that has now come to light was never spoken of."
Jakob Schoetz, a spokesman for the Regensburg diocese, told The Associated Press that Ratzinger would not comment further on the issue.Of course he won't. Because why should he be made uncomfortable or inconvenienced by accountability, when he was only an abuser and enabler? Suffering is for survivors, not perpetrators. That's the Catholic way.
There have also been reports of severe beatings by administrators at two primary feeder schools for the choir, one in Etterzhausen and one in Peilenhofen. One director, identified as Johann M., who headed the Etterzhausen school from 1953-1992, has been cited in several allegations as being particularly abusive.You know, it may be tempting to say that Ratzinger is a product of his time and all that, but that's a real load of hostile bullshit indirectly flung at all the millions and millions of people who knew before 1980 (1980, for fuck's sake!) that hitting children is wrong.
Ratzinger said boys would open up to him about being mistreated in Etterzhausen.
"But I did not have the feeling at the time that I should do something about it. Had I known with what exaggerated fierceness he was acting, I would have said something," he was quoted as saying by the German paper.
"Of course, today one condemns such actions," Ratzinger said. "I do as well. At the same time, I ask the victims for pardon."
He said he had administered corporal punishment himself.
"At the beginning I also repeatedly administered a slap in the face, but always had a bad conscience about it," Ratzinger said, adding that he was happy when corporal punishment was made illegal in 1980.
Ratzinger said a slap in the face was the easiest reaction to a failure to perform or a poor performance. How hard it was very greatly, depending on who administered it.