Pope's former archdiocese clarifies details of abusive priest's placement

The vicar general of the Archdiocese of Munich has owned up to his responsibility in making the "mistaken decisions" that led to the repeated placement of an abusive priest in parishes while Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was archbishop there. The former vicar general, Gerhard Gruber, said it was a "serious mistake."

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano published the full text of the communique from the Archdiocese of Munich and Friesing regarding the timeline of the decisions and an apology from the former vicar general.

In it, the archdiocese explains that a group supervised by the current vicar general Monsignor Peter Beer was examining past cases of abuse when they discovered a case from the 80s in which "grave errors" were found in the treatment of information concerning a priest.

The statement proposes that "despite the accusations of sexual abuses and regardless of a sentence," a priest named simply "H.," "was repeatedly employed in the pastoral care of the vicar general of that time, Gerhard Gruber."

"Gruber assumes full responsibility for these mistaken decisions," the statement says.

According to the investigations of the work group, Fr. "H." was transfered to the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising in 1980 by request of the Diocese of Essen. He underwent therapy in Munich, presumably due to having had sexual relations with children, reads the archdiocesan statement.

In the same year the decision was made along with Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger that the priest would reside in a parish house while continuing therapy.

"In spite of this decision, though, H. was destined, without restrictions, by the vicar general of that time to collaborate in the pastoral care of a parish of Munich.

From Feb. 1, 1980 to Aug. 31, 1982 there were no reports of abuse or accusations against Fr. "H.," the archdiocesan statement states. Cardinal Ratzinger was the archbishop of Munich and Freising from May 28, 1977 to Feb. 15, 1982.

In Sept. 1982, Fr. "H." was sent to Grafing to work in a parish where he stayed until 1985. At this point, he was relieved of his duties due to accusations of sexual abuse, and in June of 1986 he received a jail sentence of 18 months, which was suspended in place of a monetary fine.

After working as a chaplain for the elderly from 1986 to 1987, he was placed once again in a parish, at Garching/Alz, where he worked first as the parish priest, then as the parish administrator. He stayed there until 2008.

A "medical-legal evaluation" was done by request of Archbishop Reinhard Marx in 2008 and Fr. "H." was removed from pastoral work and made chaplain for treatment centers and tourism with the condition that he would not work further with children or young people.

Ex-vicar general Gerhard Gruber explained, "The repeated employment of H. in pastoral care was a grave error. I assume full responsibility for it. I deplore profoundly that, due to this decision, crimes may have come about against young people and I ask forgiveness of all of those who have been caused harm."

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