German prosecutors probed late Pope

The late Pope Benedict XVI was investigated by prosecutors as a possible accessory to sexual abuse during his time as archbishop in southern Germany, but investigations were dropped for lack of evidence.

The Munich prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The investigations had drawn in three senior Catholic clerics, they said.

These included the late Pope, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982, as well as his successor, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter and the vicar general at the time, Gerhard Gruber, who performed administrative duties in the archdiocese.

Proceedings were dropped one after the other after investigations failed to yield adequate evidence of criminal behaviour on the part of those responsible for church personnel, the Munich prosecutors said.

They investigated more than 40 cases of suspected criminal activity in connection with a report on abuse published in January 2022. Premises in the archdiocese were searched in February 2022.

However, the late pope was accused of failing to act decisively enough against clerics accused of abuse during his time as archbishop and as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith between 1981 and 2005.

He was elected pope in April 2005 and resigned in February 2013. He died in December at the age of 95.

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