The brother of Pope Benedict said in an interview on Tuesday he slapped pupils in the face at a German school where he led the choir, but had been unaware of the brutality of discipline there.
Rev. Georg Ratzinger, 86, made the comments to a German paper following charges of sexual and physical abuse in Catholic schools in the pope’s native Bavaria. Sexual abuse scandals have also rocked the church in the United States and Ireland.
“Pupils told me on concert trips about what went on. But it didn’t dawn on me from their stories that I should do something. I was not aware of the extent of these brutal methods,” Ratzinger told the Passauer Neue Presse.
A series of allegations in Germany and Holland have plunged the Catholic Church into a renewed crisis over how it has dealt with child abuse after it emerged that the Pope's brother ran a renowned choir at the centre of some of the latest claims.
Reports of systematic historical abuse by clergy have surfaced at three schools in the Regensburg diocese in Bavaria. One of them is the much-heralded Regensburger Domspatzen, a thousand-year-old male choir and boarding school, whose choral master for 30 years was the Pope's older brother, Georg Ratzinger.