“Autocratic at home”

Director Christoph Rohl sees parallels between his documentary "Defenders of the Faith" about Pope Benedict XVI. and its earlier projects on the Odenwald School. In both "systems" abuse was not openly addressed.

"Although the Odenwald School appeared progressive and liberal on the outside, it was autocratic on the inside," Rohl told reporters in Rome on Friday. Similar to the Catholic Church, there was a "higher goal" that they wanted to serve. "To openly address the abuses would have put that goal in jeopardy," he said.

Rohl's controversial documentary film "Defender of the Faith" about the role of Benedict XVI. in the abuse crisis was presented in English for the first time in Rome on Friday. Back in 2010, Rohl made a documentary about the abuse cases at the Odenwald school in Hesse. In 2013, he filmed the movie "The Chosen" with Ulrich Tukur in the role of the principal at the original location.

Bishops' Conference with criticism

"Defender of the Faith" had met with harsh criticism in church circles in recent months. The German Bishops' Conference denied the film was a constructive contribution to exposing sexualized violence in the Catholic Church. Instead, the director transports "a highly distorted image" of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. The film was already shown in German cinemas from the end of October.

In the run-up, Curia Archbishop Georg Ganswein – who himself has his say in the film – had already voiced criticism. "This is a mess, a debacle – I can't say it any other way," said the private secretary to the pope emeritus. He could only warn against this "cleverly made", "not objective" film.

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