Former catholic Pope, Benedict XVI has admitted to making errors in the handling of sexual abuse cases when he was the archbishop of Munich.
A report into the Catholic Church alleged that he failed to act over four child sex abuse cases.
Then known as Josef Ratzinger, he was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.
A report in January by a German law firm alleged that sexual abuse by priests on minors continued under his tenure, and that the priests accused of carrying out the abuse remained active in church roles and the pope was fully aware of it.
In a letter released by the Vatican on Tuesday, February 8, the former pope asked forgiveness for any “grievous fault” but denied personal wrongdoing.
In his first personal response to the report, the former Pope, aged 94, wrote:
“I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church. All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate.”
He described the actions against victims of sexual abuse as a “most grievous fault.
“As in those meetings, once again I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my profound shame, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt request for forgiveness.
“Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life”, he added.
Before the report was released in January, Pope Benedict had denied he had attended a meeting in 1980 about sexual abuse cases when he was archbishop of Munich.
But after the report’s release, Pope Benedict admitted that he had attended the meeting. His personal secretary at the time, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, said the omission was an oversight in the editing of the statement released at the time and was not done out of bad faith.
Pope Benedict referred to this in the letter, stating that he felt deeply hurt by how this oversight had been used “to cast doubt on my truthfulness, and even to label me a liar.”
Pope Benedict became the first catholic leader to resign in more than 600 years when he resigned in 2013, citing exhaustion as his reason.