Pope Benedict XVI has admitted to providing false information during an investigation into sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich.
A report by law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) last week accused Benedict of failing to act in four child abuse cases during his tenure as archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982. The report said the former pope was aware of the transfer to his then-diocese of a priest after it was alleged that he had abused children.
Benedict, who provided lengthy written testimony, denies any wrongdoing on his part.
The former pope had previously claimed that he did not attend a meeting in 1980 during which the case of the suspected padeophile priest, Peter Hullermann, was discussed. Mr Hullermann was to undergo therapy, which was approved by the former pope – then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Benedict on Monday said had in fact attended the meeting, and that the previous assertion was based on “an error in the editing of his statement”.
In a statement to Germany’s KNA Catholic news agency, Benedict’s long-time secretary Monsignor Georg Gaenswein said the retired pope apologised for the error.
He said: “He would like to stress that this did not happen out of any bad intent, but was the consequence of a mistake in the editorial processing of his statement.”
Gaenswein stressed, however, no decision on the priest resuming pastoral work was made at the meeting and that it only approved him being put up in Munich during therapy.
Mr Hullermann was allowed to resume pastoral work, a decision that the church has said was made by a lower-ranking official without consulting the archbishop.
In 1986, the priest received a suspended sentence for molesting a boy.
The 1,900-page report pointed to at least 497 abuse victims and at least 235 alleged perpetrators in the Archdiocese of Munich, although the authors of the report suspect there may be more.