A new report claims that more students of a prestigious German choir were subjected to physical abuse than originally thought, and accuses the brother of Benedict XVI of turning a blind eye.
Ulrich Weber is the lawyer commissioned to investigate Regensburger Domspatzen, the official choir for the Regensburg Cathedral.
According to Weber, the July 18 report shows that the number children suspected to have been victimized is much greater than the 250 previously accounted for.
He said 500 members of the choir were exposed to physical harm and 67 suffered sexual abuse from 49 members of the school’s faculty, ranging from 1945 until the early 90s. Most of alleged perpetrators, he said, are not expected to face charges because of the length of time that has gone by.
The reported violence ranged from public ridicule, heavy beatings, and sexual abuse, but a large portion of the documented incidents involved slapping and food deprivation, a legal form of discipline in Bavaria until the 1980s.
Much of the heavier discipline was attributed to Johann Meier, a schoolmaster at one of the boarding schools from 1953 to 1992.
Weber has continued to blame Georg Ratzinger, brother of Pope Benedict XVI, for negligence on acting against the physical abuse, saying “one can accuse him of looking the other way and failing to intervene.” He has clarified however, that Fr. Ratzinger had no knowledge of sexual abuse.
Father Ratzinger, who was the director from 1964 to 1994, has also said that he was unaware of the degree of the physical abuse, according to a 2010 interview with Passauer Neue Presse.
“Had I known with what exaggerated fierceness he was acting, I would have said something,” he said in the interview of Meier, pointing out that he had only known about the discipline of slapping, a punishment common in many schools and homes in the area at the time.
However, many of the victims associated their time at the school with “fear, violence, and hopelessness,” Fr. Ratzinger said, apologizing for the corporal punishment of the time as well as the extreme abuse which occurred at the school.
“Of course, today one condemns such actions. I do as well. At the same time, I ask the victims for pardon.”
The Catholic Church has offered compensation to the victims of Regensburg, ranging from about $5,500 to $25,000.