Allegations by German tabloid Spiegel

The German tabloid Spiegel Online is claiming that the then-Vicar General Gerhard Gruber was told to take the blame for the case of child-abuser Fr. Hullermann during the term of Munich’s then-Archbishop Joseph Card. Ratzinger.

Here and here.

UPDATE 18 Ap 1811:

The Archdiocese of Munich has issued a denial.  The story on the site of Vatican Radio.

D: Erzbistum München-Freising weist „Spiegel“-Vorwürfe zurück

Das Erzbistum München und Freising hat einen Bericht des „Spiegel“ dementiert, dass der frühere Generalvikar Gerhard Gruber gedrängt worden sei, anstelle des heutigen Papstes die Verantwortung für den Einsatz eines pädophilen Priesters in München zu übernehmen. „Die Darstellung, Gruber sei zu irgendetwas gezwungen worden, ist frei erfunden“, sagte der Sprecher des Erzbistums, Bernhard Kellner, am Sonntag auf Anfrage. Prälat Gruber habe die volle Verantwortung für den wiederholten Einsatz von Pfarrer H. in der Pfarrseelsorge übernommen. Der „Spiegel“ stützt sich in seiner Berichterstattung auf namentlich nicht genannte Vertraute des früheren Generalvikars. Diese hätten berichtet, dass Gruber unter großem Druck stehe. Es sei darum gegangen, den Papst „aus der Schusslinie zu nehmen“, heißt es in dem auf „Spiegel online“ veröffentlichten Bericht. Gruber sei am Telefon eindringlich gebeten worden, die volle Verantwortung zu übernehmen. Kellner erklärte dazu, dass dem Erzbistum schon seit Wochen ein Schreiben Grubers vorliege, in dem er Darstellungen von dritter Seite zurückweise, er sei „zu irgendetwas gezwungen“ worden. Der aus Essen stammende Priester H. wurde 1980 in München aufgenommen, als Joseph Ratzinger dort Erzbischof war. Er sollte eine Therapie machen, weil er in seinem Heimatbistum Jungen sexuell missbraucht hatte. Trotz dieser Vorgeschichte setzte ihn die Erzdiözese wieder in der Gemeindeseelsorge ein, wo es zu erneuten Übergriffen kam. Auch nach einer Verurteilung war der Geistliche weiterhin in der Pfarrseelsorge tätig. Die alleinige Verantwortung dafür hatte bereits Mitte März Gruber übernommen, der schon unter Ratzinger Generalvikar war.


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  1. torch621 says:

    Same old, same old. Tabloids I never take seriously, especially the NYT.

  2. Randii says:

    Bennett, the famed international lawyer, was on The World Over this week.

    He was very critical of the way the Vatican is handling this.

    To the linked story above, when Arroyo asked Bennett if he thought the Pope was invvolved in any of the scandals Bennett said he doesn’t know. All the evidence hasn’t been released.

    Bennett called on the Vatican to release everything about the cases. That is the first thing you do in crisis management he said.

    It seems some programs and/or guests on Catholic radio are starting to distance themseleves a bit from the Vatican over the scandals.

    Yesterday Al kresta called the Vatican’s handling of this incompetent and he had 3 guests who were surprisingly frank in their criticism of the Vatican and the Pope. The program had originally been set to discuss the Pope’s approach to liturgy and theology reltated topics but basically turned into a discussion about the crisis.

    I agree with Bennett – all documents need to be released on these cases.

  3. MikeM says:

    Wait, he said the first thing you do in crisis management is to release thousands and thousands of pages of documents that include confidential information and which the majority of world simply doesn’t have the background knowledge to understand? Sounds like a pretty crack-pot idea to me.

    That said, the response has been pretty inept. But I’ve grown to accept ineptitude from the Vatican in the face of crisis. The Vatican has my utmost respect on doctrinal matters, but it’s hardly filled with master administrators and it has some of the worst “communications” of any organization anywhere… this sometimes leads to outright stupid responses to crises since no one there knows how to properly deal with them.

  4. Lori Pieper says:

    When the press actually has the full (or even partial) documentation, does it do any better of a job? Just look at what the NYT has done. Loads of documents in the Murphy case, and they still can’t get the story straight!

  5. chironomo says:

    Generally, such tabloids write the story they want and then pore over the disclosure that has been released to find what they need to support said story. No point in their including spurious details like the the truth or anything….

  6. ray from mn says:

    Remember when the Vatican didn’t know the difference between Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Sioux City, Iowa when both had bishop vacancies at the same time a couple of years ago?

    When hundreds of stories from from news agencies with hundreds of staffers talking to hundreds of informants, many with axes to grind, in dozens of countries containing charges about events from 20 to 50 years ago in times when computers were not yet a reality in the Church, what would you expect from the Vatican’s news staff, comprised of very few people, most of whom are in a state of shock (with a few no doubt enjoying it)?

    An organization that depends upon voluntary compliance is hardly likely to keep voluminous records as to its activities.

    No doubt but that it will be doing that in the future.

  7. C. says:

    So this Gruber now claims to be a liar as well as a molester-enabler? Why should we consider him credible?

  8. Emilio III says:

    This sleazy shyster Bennett must be an embarrassment to his brother. Did he tell his former client in the White House to release all the information in HIS case?

  9. anna 6 says:

    Can anyone translate German?

  10. AnAmericanMother says:

    Can anyone translate German?

    Very quick and very dirty:

    Archdiocese of Munich and Freising rejects Spiegel-blame

    The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising has denied a report by Der Spiegel that the former Vicar General Gerhard Gruber had been pressured to take responsibility instead of the current Pope for the placing of a pedophile priest in Munich. “The representation that Gruber had been forced to do anything, is pure fiction,” said the spokesman for the archdiocese, Bernhard Kellner, on Sunday upon inquiry. Prelate Gruber had taken full responsibility for the return of Rev. H. to parish ministry. Der Spiegel based its report on an unnamed confidante of the former vicar general. This source reported that Gruber is under high pressure. This was intended to “take the Pope out of the firing line,” according to the report published in Spiegel Online. Gruber is said to have been forcefully asked by telephone to take full responsibility. Kellner explained that the archdiocese some weeks earlier had before it a letter from Gruber in which he was rejecting representations from a third party that he was “forced to do anything”. A native of Essen, Rev. H. was placed in Munich in 1980, when Joseph Ratzinger was archbishop there. He was ordered to therapy because he had sexually abused boys in his home diocese. Despite this history, the archdiocese put him back into a pastoral setting, where he re-offended. Even after conviction, the priest was still active in parish ministry. The sole responsibility for this had already been taken in mid-March by Gruber, who was already Vicar General under Ratzinger.

  11. anna 6 says:

    American mother you are the best…danke!

  12. AnAmericanMother says:

    Bitte sehr! (sometimes 10 years of German comes in handy. But not often. If you meet native Germans they all want to practice their English.) :-D

  13. Michael Kremer says:

    There is now an English version from the Spiegel here (it doesn’t appear to be a direct English translation of either German article):,1518,689761,00.html\

    I find it very confusing. They mention reports from unnamed friends of Gruber, and they also mention an “open letter” by Gruber, but without giving any links. I have not been able to find this letter on line, and I wonder if it is the same letter the archdiocese claims to have or something else.

    (By the way, in the statement from the archdiocese, I think that “vorliege” means “presented” or “showed”, not “was presented with” or “had before it.” So I would understand “Kellner erklärte dazu, dass dem Erzbistum schon seit Wochen ein Schreiben Grubers vorliege, in dem er Darstellungen von dritter Seite zurückweise, er sei „zu irgendetwas gezwungen“ worden.” as “Kellner explained that the archdiocese some weeks earlier had already presented a letter from Gruber in which he was rejecting representations from a third party that he was “forced to do anything”.” I stand open to correction on that.)

  14. AnAmericanMother says:

    That seemed to me to be oddly worded to me at the time I read it. Presented to whom? Nobody says. Displayed to the press? I guess ‘presented’ or ‘displayed’ at some time in the past is really a better translation, but it leaves the source, object and method of presentation up in the air.

    Like I said – quick and dirty.

  15. Michael Kremer says:

    Now Gruber himself has denied the Spiegel report.

    Without trying to translate these reports, the gist is, I think, this: (if anyone wants to contribute a real translation, go ahead!)

    Gruber denies (or even, contradicts) the reports in Der Spiegel and the Sueddeutschezeitung that he was pressured into taking responsibility for the Hullerman case. He states that he was responsible for re-assigning Hullerman. He seems to have done this in some sort of consultation with another archdiocesan official in charge of personnel who is now dead. He explains that the report was based on a newsletter two of his friends had sent out, which included some discussion of a telephone conversation he had had with a friend. This newsletter however included serious inaccuracies and falsehoods. In particular while he had told his friend he was under pressure of time, he denies that he was called into the Archbishop’s office or presented with documents to sign. (In other words, I take it, given the allegations that were being made he felt pressed to intervene — but not external pressure.)

  16. sea the stars says:

    Greetings from Germany.

    “Kellner erklärte dazu, dass dem Erzbistum schon seit Wochen ein Schreiben Grubers vorliege”


    Kellner explained, that a letter of Gruber’s already lay with the Archdiocese for weeks.

  17. Michael Kremer says:

    Thanks for the clarification. My German is far from perfect.

    Having said that… here is my attempt at the Sueddeutsche Zeitung story:

    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).

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