‘Culture of Silence’ Abetted Abuse of at Least 547 German Choir Boys, Inquiry Finds

Source: The New York Times

By 

BERLIN — For decades, a “culture of silence” pervaded a Catholic music school where the brother of a future pope directed a renowned boys’ choir, contributing to an environment in which at least 547 children were abused, a lawyer who carried out an investigation of the mistreatment said on Tuesday.

The estimate of the number of children abused was far greater than a previous figure, 231, that the lawyer gave last year.

The choir — the Regensburg Domspatzen, literally the Cathedral Sparrows — dates to the 10th century and continues to perform at Sunday Mass in Regensburg’s 16th-century Gothic cathedral. The choir’s music director from 1964 to 1994 was the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, whose younger brother, Joseph Ratzinger, reigned as Pope Benedict XVI from 2005 to 2013.

Father Ratzinger, now 93, has apologized for slapping boys during his tenure, and said he stopped administering corporal punishment when the church banned it in 1980. He has denied awareness of sexual abuse taking place, and the new investigation does not implicate him in it.

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