In response to a sexual abuse claim that surfaced this week involving a member of the famed boys’ choir of Regensburg, where the Pope’s brother served as director for 30 years, the local bishop came to Fr. Georg Ratzinger’s defense noting that the instances of abuse took place before he was in charge.
Officials are revisiting the case that came to light this week involving a former student and member of the "Domspatzen," or Cathedral Sparrows choir in Regensburg. According to the Associated Press, the victim said he was sexually abused in the 1960s during his time with the choir.
According to a letter sent to the parents of current members of the boys' choir written by Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg, two now-deceased religious had already been condemned for abuses at the choir’s accompanying school. One of them was removed from his position as teacher and vice director of the institution in 1958 and the other was taken out of the school before his condemnation in 1971. They both died in 1984.
According to the bishop's letter, the results of these cases were made public at that time and "they are considered closed in the legal sense."
Bishop Müller added that the cases did not coincide with Fr. Georg Ratzinger's time there.
Fr. Ratzinger, brother of Pope Benedict and director of the choir from 1964 to 1993, told Bavarian public radio Bayerischen Rundfunk this week that he was not aware of the abuses.
L'Osservatore Romano released the bishop's words along with a message expressing the support of the Holy See for the diocese, offering its "availability to analyze the painful question decisively and in an open way."
"The main objective of the clarification by the Church is to render justice to the victims," he continued.
To date, the reported cases of abuse in Germany involve 18 of Germany's 27 dioceses, according to the Italian agency ASCA, and involve the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Jesuits, Benedictines and Capuchins. Bishops' conference investigations are being led by Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier.
Holy See vice-spokesman, Fr. Ciro Benedettini, told reporters on Friday that the Vatican is taking the situation in Germany "very seriously."