The Traunstein Regional Court in Bavaria has postponed a hearing in a compensation lawsuit brought against the late Pope Benedict XVI and other Church officials.
The reason for the delay was that “the legal successors of the deceased Pope Emeritus could not yet be determined”, the court announced on Monday. A new date has not yet been set for the hearing which was originally scheduled to begin on March 28.
The case was brought by an alleged abuse victim from Bavaria who wants a court to determine whether Church leaders can be held liable to pay compensation for the damage he said he suffered as a child because of abuse by a priest.
The lawsuit is directed against the archdiocese of Munich-Freising as a corporation and three people: the offender and the former Munich archbishops Cardinal Friedrich Wetter (1982-2008) and Joseph Ratzinger (1977-1982), the later Pope Benedict. Following his death on New Year’s Eve 2022, Benedict’s heirs must be identified for the proceedings to go ahead.
The late Pope left his material inheritance to five cousins, his long-time private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, said in Rome on Sunday. Since Benedict appointed Gaenswein as executor of his will, it was now up to him to ask the heirs in writing whether they wanted to accept the inheritance, said Gaenswein. The inheritance did not include the proceeds from the literary works of the deceased, nor his personal belongings, he said. It was only about what might still be in the bank account.
If the plaintiff in the Traunstein case wins the lawsuit and is then granted a claim for damages against the former archbishop, Ratzinger’s heirs could eventually also be held financially liable – provided they had not previously rejected the inheritance.
*Originally published by KNA Germany.