Former Vicar General in Archd. of Munich denies taking the fall for the future Pope

A reader alerted me to this.

In Suddeutsche Zeitung the former Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising under then Archbp. Ratzinger, Msgr. Gerhard Gruber, says that Card. Ratzinger did not, in fact, know about the appointment of "Fr. H" to an assignment in Munich who had abused children in Essen.

Some people suggested that Msgr. Gruber had simply been directed to take the fall for a culpable future Pope.

It is important to understand – and this is something that people who are set against the truth of the matter – that Vicars General in German dicoese handle personnel matters and that Papa Ratzinger is not, has not been, a close micro-manager.

Ex-Generalvikar wehrt sich

München – Der ehemalige Generalvikar des Münchner Erzbistums, Gerhard Gruber, hat gegenüber der Süddeutschen Zeitung Berichten widersprochen, wonach ihn das Erzbistum gedrängt habe, die Verantwortung für den Einsatz des pädophilen Priesters H. auf sich zu nehmen, um den heutigen Papst Benedikt XVI. aus der Schusslinie zu nehmen. Es sei tatsächlich seine Entscheidung gewesen, H. im Jahr 1980 in einer Gemeinde einzusetzen; er habe sie gemeinsam mit dem inzwischen verstorbenen Personalreferenten Friedrich Fahr getroffen, aber nicht mit Erzbischof Joseph Ratzinger besprochen. Auslöser für die Berichte ist offenbar ein Rundbrief, den zwei Freunde Grubers verschickt haben. Gruber sagt, er habe mit einem Freund telefoniert, der Inhalte des Gesprächs "wohlmeinend, aber unglücklich" weiterverbreitet habe. Der Brief enthalte "Ungenauigkeiten und gravierende Falschmeldungen". Er habe dem Freund zu verstehen gegeben, dass er unter Zeitdruck gestanden habe. Aber weder sei ihm ein vorgefertigtes Schriftstück zur Unterzeichnung vorgelegt worden noch sei er ins Erzbischöfliche Ordinariat zitiert worden. mai

 

UPDATE:

Translation by a German native speaker, from a comment below:

Munich – The former vicar general of the archdiocese of Munich, Gerhard Gruber, in the Süddeutsche Zeitung objected to reports [mad, as far as I know, in the left-leaning SPIEGEL Magazine] that he had been pressed by the archdiocese to take on himself the responsibility for the employment of the pedophile priest H. in order to take the current Pope Benedict XVI out of the firing line, stating it had in fact been his decision to employ H. in the year 1980 in a parish, which he had made together with the since deceased Friedrich Fahr, the Personnel Officer, but not discussed with Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger.
These reports were apparently triggered by a circular letter sent by two of Gruber’s friends. Gruber said he had spoken on the telephone with a friend who then, “with the best intentions but infelicitously”, passed on some contents of the conversation. The letter, he said, contained “inaccuracies and serious misreporting.” He had made it clear to the friend that he was under time pressure. But he never had been presented with a prepackaged document for his signature, nor had he been summoned to the Archdiocesan chancery. mai

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15 Responses to Former Vicar General in Archd. of Munich denies taking the fall for the future Pope

  1. Michael Kremer says:

    I posted this on the previous story about this.

    Here is my attempt at translating the Sueddeutsche Zeitung story (based on Google translate + dictionaries + one year of German in college — open to correction from my betters):

    Ex-vicar general defends himself

    Munich – The former vicar general of the archdiocese of Munich, Gerhard Gruber, has contradicted the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that he had been pressed by the archdiocese to take on himself the responsibility for the employment of the pedophile priest H. in order to take the current Pope Benedict XVI out of the firing line. It was actually his decision to employ H. in the year 1980 in a parish; he had met together with the since deceased Friedrich Fahr, the Personnel Officer, but had not spoken with Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger. The source of the reports is apparently a newsletter (Rundbrief, circular – I think this means a letter sent around among friends), sent by two of Gruber’s friends. Gruber said he had spoken with a friend on the telephone, who then, “with good intentions but unfortunately,” circulated the contents of the conversation. The letter contained “inaccuracies and serious misreporting.” He had made it clear to the friend that he was under time pressure. But he was not presented with a prepackaged document for his signature, nor had he been summoned to the Archdiocesan offices (= Erzbischöfliche Ordinariat, I think). mai (I think the author’s initials)

  2. Victor says:

    Slightly corrected translation by a German native speaker:

    Munich – The former vicar general of the archdiocese of Munich, Gerhard Gruber, in the Süddeutsche Zeitung objected to reports [mad, as far as I know, in the left-leaning SPIEGEL Magazine] that he had been pressed by the archdiocese to take on himself the responsibility for the employment of the pedophile priest H. in order to take the current Pope Benedict XVI out of the firing line, stating it had in fact been his decision to employ H. in the year 1980 in a parish, which he had made together with the since deceased Friedrich Fahr, the Personnel Officer, but not discussed with Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger.
    These reports were apparently triggered by a circular letter sent by two of Gruber’s friends. Gruber said he had spoken on the telephone with a friend who then, “with the best intentions but infelicitously”, passed on some contents of the conversation. The letter, he said, contained “inaccuracies and serious misreporting.” He had made it clear to the friend that he was under time pressure. But he never had been presented with a prepackaged document for his signature, nor had he been summoned to the Archdiocesan chancery. mai

  3. TJerome says:

    I doubt the New York Slimes or the National Anti-Catholic Reporter will print this since it contradicts the “Agenda.”

  4. Michael Kremer says:

    Victor: Thanks.

    TJerome: Actually, neither the NYT nor the AP went with the original story, which made it even more suspicious.

  5. TomG says:

    Yes, thanks very much, Victor.

  6. Tom in NY says:

    Don’t forget the Spiegel cover some years back, “Hitlers Tagesbuch entdeckt.” It turned out quickly the diaries were fakes.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  7. PostCatholic says:

    Even as a former Catholic who wishes the Pope would do more about the cadre of criminal bishops responsible for the cover-ups, I am in support of your statement “that Papa Ratzinger is not, has not been, a close micro-manager.” Anyone who believes that knows less than nothing about the Pope’s working style.

  8. TJerome says:

    PostCatholic, interesting that you follow all of this since you’re a former Catholic. Why spend the time?

  9. EchoRomeo says:

    “Don’t forget the Spiegel cover some years back, ‘Hitlers Tagesbuch entdeckt.’”

    In fact, it was another tabloid, the “Stern” (Star). But it doesn’t matter that much. They believe what they WANT to believe.

  10. stgemma_0411 says:

    How is it possible that mainstream media outlets missed this?!?

  11. Ulrich says:

    Google News found exactly 3 (three) sites with the correction, after there have been ~15 (plus unimportant others) saying Gruber was forced to …
    MSM …

  12. anna 6 says:

    And it was reported on National Catholic Reporter by both John Allen and Thomas Fox as well as Whispers in the Loggia…with much damage done.

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/munich-vicar-general-reportedly-says-he-was-forced-take-fall-cardinal-ratzinger?

    The comments are disturbing.

  13. Victor says:

    There is a report in Süddeutsche Zeitung today which is much more detailed: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/,tt7m1/bayern/943/509080/text/

    A quick (and not very good, I fear) translation into English:

    „To Give those People a Chance“
    By M. Maier-Albang

    Paedophile Father H. reinstated again and again by Vicar General Gruber – Then-bishop Ratzinger allegedly didn’t know anything of it

    Staying a few days in South Tyrol to get out of the hype, Gerhard Gruber was in Italy when journalists from Italy, France and the USA went to Munich to hear from him what really happened with the paedophile parish priest Father H., whom Gruber had taken from the diocese of Essen when he was still Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Munich.

    Having come to Munich just to receive therapeutical treatment, he was soon sent to a parish, and later another one and a third one – where he found victims once again. When his first parish assignment occurred in 1980, Joseph Ratzinger was Archbishop of Munich.

    So what did Ratzinger know about the paedophile priest being assigned to pastoral care? Nothing, Gruber asserts. When the case had become public in March, Gruber already had taken responsibility. And he reaffirms his statement in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
    This Monday the SPIEGEL [left-leaning German magazine] reported that Gruber possibly had been coerced by the current leadership of the Archdiocese to come to the Pope’s defence. But this is not true, Gruber says. It was only him and Friedrich Fahr, the personnel officer at the time, who decided to assign H. to a parish. Fahr died in 2007. “It is quite plain to me that a dead witness is not very convincing”, Gruber says. So there is just his word, since the Pope cannot be interrogated about it.

    But why did the personnel officer and the vicar general assign H. to a parish? “We could not let him twiddle his thumbs the whole day, could we?” Gruber says. He himself chose the parish, St. John Evangelist in Munich, because he was well acquainted with the parish priest, Josef Hamberger. Hamberger, who is deceased as well, was to look out for H. “, states Gruber.

    H. had been assigned „just as an auxiliary priest“ by Gruber „out of his official authority“. This term is important to Gruber. He was irritated when the Archdiocese made public that Gruber acted „without authority“. That sounded like abuse of position, says the octogenarian. But canonical law explicitly states that it is within the vicar general’s rights to act thusly.

    Gruber shared his resentment over the false terminology with a friend he made while studying at the roman seminary “Germanicum“. This friend wrote an email newsletter which soon circulated between the “Germanicum“ alumni. The chancery had exerted pressure on Gruber, the email said.

    But Gruber claims to have been thoroughly misunderstood. Speaking to his friend by telephone he explained to him that “we all were under time pressure“ because a press release had to be prepared March 12th after the SZ [this newspaper] had inquired at the Chancery regarding the case of Father H. After having heard of the circular mail, Gruber himself sent a letter dated April 8th to his study colleagues in order to correct “some grave misinformation”.

    Facing the same problem today he would handle the case H. differently, says Gruber, not least because of the Episcopal guidelines [established in 2002]. But at the time there were no mandatory regulations how to handle priests with a paedophile disposition and so the dioceses just “helped out one another” in order to “give those people a chance”, as Gruber formulates. Therapy would bring everything in order, people believed then. “We all believed that this could be repaired“.

    Please note that the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” is a left-leaning daily newspaper issued in Munich which has, during the last weeks, been one of the most hateful propagandists against the Catholic church and especially our Holy Father. Nevertheless this article seems quite neutral and to the point.

  14. Michael Kremer says:

    Victor — many thanks for that.

    Anna 6 — I posted a comment to Fox’s column on the NCR blog, but it hasn’t appeared yet. I also wrote directly to Fox. No reply.

    The NCR blog holds comments for moderation, sometimes for a long time.

  15. Michael Kremer says:

    Give credit to NCR for posting a link to the following Wall Street Journal piece, which unfortunately is behind a subscriber wall, but seems to confirm that Gruber is still taking responsibility:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704448304575196482519443598.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_World