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New York Times highlights Pope Benedict’s support of investigation of Cardinal Groër

Catholic World News - April 27, 2010

Pope Benedict, while prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, intervened to have Father Hans Hermann Groër appointed Archbishop of Vienna in 1986 but also pushed for the establishment of an inquiry after he was accused of sexual abuse, The New York Times reported on April 27.

Quoting Cardinal Christoph Schönborn-- Cardinal Groër’s successor as Archbishop of Vienna-- the Times reports:

In 1995, a victim came forward, telling Profil that the archbishop, then his religion teacher and confessor, had sexually abused him for four years two decades earlier at Hollabrunn.

In Rome a few weeks later, Cardinal Schönborn said, Cardinal Ratzinger told him behind closed doors that he wanted to set up a fact-finding commission to establish clarity. “That for me is one of the best indications that I know from personal experience that today’s pope had a very decisive, clear way of handling abuse cases,” he said.

In a subsequent conversation later that year, Benedict “explicitly regretted that the commission had not been set up,” Cardinal Schönborn said. “It became clear very quickly that the current that prevailed in Rome was not the one demanding clarity here. Cardinal Ratzinger told me that the other side, the diplomatic side, had prevailed” …

Cardinal Schönborn said he could not explain why Cardinal Ratzinger had so much influence with the pope on other matters, but lacked the clout to have Cardinal Groër investigated for abuse. “I am not responsible to explain everything,” he said. “I just know that that is how it was.”

The Times article fails to capture some of the historical background surrounding Cardinal Groër’s 1986 appointment-- background discussed in a 2007 Catholic World Report article.

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  • Posted by: Gaby - Apr. 27, 2010 9:35 AM ET USA

    Wasn't it John XXIII who -when asked a question about Church protocol- answered, "How should I know? I'm only the pope!" This may not be a case of Ratzinger not having enough influence over the pope, but rather the pope not having enough influence over the curia. This wouldn't be the first time in history that the pope was thwarted from implementing much needed reform.

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