Hundreds of Boys Abused in Choir Led by Ex-Pope's Brother

Lawyer says there were more than 500 victims at German school
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2017 12:07 AM CDT
More Than 500 Boys Abused at German Choir School
Ulrich Weber, a lawyer tasked with shedding light on the Regensburg Cathedral abuse case, speaks at a press conference in Regensburg, Germany.   (Armin Weigel)

At least 547 members of a prestigious Catholic boys' choir in Germany were physically or sexually abused between 1945 and 1992, according to a report Tuesday. Allegations involving the Domspatzen choir were among a spate of abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in Germany that emerged in 2010, the AP reports. In 2015, lawyer Ulrich Weber was tasked with producing a report on what happened. The report said 547 boys at the Domspatzen school "with a high degree of plausibility" were victims of physical or sexual abuse, or both. It counted 500 cases of physical violence and 67 of sexual violence, committed by 49 perpetrators. At the choir's pre-school, "violence, fear, and helplessness dominated" and "violence was an everyday method," it said.

"Alongside individual motives, institutional motives—namely, breaking the will of the children with the aim of maximum discipline and dedication—formed the basis for violence." The choir was led from 1964 to 1994 by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI's elder brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger. Ratzinger has acknowledged slapping pupils after he took over the choir, though such punishments were commonplace in Germany at that time. The report faulted Ratzinger "in particular for 'looking away' or for failing to intervene." Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer has announced plans to offer victims compensation of between $5,730 and $22,930 each by the end of this year. (Ratzinger claims he knew nothing of the abuse.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.