Regensburg Cathedral Boys' Choir © dpa
George Ratzinger © KNA
Georg Ratzinger, brother of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI., By his own admission, had no knowledge of sexual abuse cases at Regensburg Cathedral Boys' Choir. He told the "Passauer Neue Presse" that
With regard to the beating accusations, the 91-year-old pointed out that beatings and slaps were "common in all areas of education as well as in families" at that time. "With the Domspatzen, they had no other significance than in the areas mentioned as well," said Georg Ratzinger, who directed the world-famous boys' choir from 1964 to 1994.
The lawyer commissioned by the diocese of Regensburg, Ulrich Weber, had given an interim report on the allegations of beating and abuse on Friday. He spoke of at least 231 cases of physical violence; according to the report, 62 cases involved sexual assault "ranging from fondling to rape". Weber estimates that of the 2.100 children in the preschool of the choir in Etterzhausen and Pielenhofen were beaten by about a third between 1953 and 1992.
Attorney Weber: "gross disproportionality"
The lawyer left no doubt that, in his opinion, Ratzinger was also aware of the chastisements. He had learned of violence in the preschool at least in 1987. Weber also stressed that even if the beating is seen in the temporal context of education at the time, it shows a "gross disproportionality".
In the interview, Ratzinger admitted to having known about regular and "very severe" slaps by longtime preschool director Johann Meier. However, he had never observed Meier "beating a boy under the table" and had never seen any traces of injuries on any of the students. Meier had taken early retirement in 1992 after criticism of what Ratzinger called his "harsh pedagogical methods".
Ratzinger: No "system of fear"
The long-time choirmaster also contradicted Weber's assessment that a "system of fear" had prevailed at the Domspatzen. "This is not the truth," he told the newspaper. From meetings with former Domspatzen he sees "that the years in the choir were for them, in addition to all the hardships that are part of any education, a time of inner formation and maturation, for which they are grateful to this day".
One would not "return in this way" to a place of fear and violence, Ratzinger says.