ROME — Retired Pope Benedict XVI is asking forgiveness for any "grievous faults" in his handling of clergy sex abuse cases. But he is not admitting to any personal or specific wrongdoing after an independent report criticized his actions in four cases while he was archbishop of Munich, Germany.
Benedict issued a letter, and his legal team issued a technical response to a Jan. 20 report from a German law firm that found several cases where Benedict — then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — could be accused of misconduct.
"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," the retired pope, 94, said according to The Associated Press.
The Archdiocese of Munich commissioned the report from law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl nearly two years ago, with a mandate to look into abuse between 1945 and 2019 and whether church officials handled allegations correctly.
The report found four cases in which Benedict could be found to be at fault.
"We believe that he can be accused of misconduct in four cases," lawyer Martin Pusch said of Benedict upon the report's release, according to CNN. "Two of these cases concern abuses committed during his tenure and sanctioned by the state. In both cases, the perpetrators remained active in pastoral care."
Benedict has since admitted to attending a meeting in 1980 regarding a case of sexual abuse of a child. He headed the Munich archdiocese from 1977 to 1982.
Benedict broke with hundreds of years of precedence in 2013 when he resigned as pope. All other popes dating back to the Middle Ages had held the position until their death.