“Idiosyncratic and flawed interpretation.”

Pope Benedict XVI. on his arrival at the World Youth Day in Cologne on 18 September. August 2005 © Wolfgang Radtke (KNA)

The 90-minute documentary film about Benedict XVl. by British-German director Christoph Rohl has provoked sharp criticism. The film as a whole paints a very distorted picture of Ratzinger, according to the German bishops.

The German theatrical release of the new film "Defenders of the Faith" about Pope Benedict XVI. and the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church has drawn sharp criticism from.

While the German Bishops' Conference welcomes "any constructive contribution to uncovering sexualized violence, its causes and environment," it does not see a constructive contribution in "Defenders of the Faith".

"Strongly distorted image"

The film draws "altogether a strongly distorted picture of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger/Benedikt XVI."who is "always concerned with the purity of the Church and the priesthood, never with the victims". "This is an idiosyncratic and erroneous interpretation."

Above all, he said, Benedict XVI. had been, as the first Pope ever on several trips with victims of sexual abuse met, in particular in September 2011 in Erfurt. This circumstance is concealed, which makes the film unserious. It is regrettable that the opportunity for a historical-critical portrait of Pope Benedict XVI has been missed., that could have done it justice in a differentiated way has been missed.

In an interview with the Catholic weekly newspaper "Die Tagespost", the Munich publicist and Ratzinger expert Peter Seewald described Christoph Rohl's directorial work as a "collection of polemics, half-truths and untruths". She is "not to be taken seriously as a contribution to the discussion".

"Tendentious and manipulative"

Theologian Christian Schaller, deputy director of the Pope Benedict XVI Institute. in Regensburg, said Thursday that the film is "tendentious and manipulative," which contradicts the claim of a documentary. Joseph Ratzinger's person is portrayed in a way that does not correspond to reality, he said. The reason for this is that the director approached his subject with the intention of "showing Pope Benedict XVI". To reveal himself as an accomplice of the abusers".

Harsher action under canon law

Schaller pointed out that Ratzinger had already seen in the 1980s the weaknesses of the way abuse had been handled in the church until then. He has laid the groundwork for tougher action under canon law against the perpetrators of the crime. The film had omitted these and other essential facts.

Seewald said that it was concealed, for example, that Benedict XVI. had suspended some 400 clergy, including bishops and cardinals.

"Brutal falsification of history"

It is also a "brutal falsification of history" to hold Ratzinger responsible for the fact that "the atrocious deeds of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ could not be uncovered. Ratzinger brought down Marcial Maciel late, but "quasi single-handedly".

The publicist explained that not all measures taken by the German pope would have met. Especially in comparison to his successor, his crisis management was "not so bad".

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