"Incriminating" Catholic Church report: Josef Ratzinger protected pedophile priests before becoming Pope Benedict

Josef Ratzinger, who would later be elected Pope Benedict XVI, "failed to act" on child sexual abuse by clergy in the 1970s and 1980s, according to a investigation conducted by a German law firm hired by the Catholic Church. The BBC describes the report as "incriminating" and that "the accused priests remained active in church roles."

In one instance, it is alleged he knew about a priest accused of abusing boys who was transferred to his diocese – but continued to work in pastoral care roles. The former pope is reported to have submitted dozens of pages of answers to the law firm's questioning, in which he expressed support for the inquiry but denied any knowledge or lack of action around the abuse allegations. The report, however, contains minutes which strongly suggest he was present at a meeting at which the subject was discussed.

The Vatican said in a statement that it would examine the details of the report once it had been published.

"As we reiterate the sense of shame and regret for the abuses on minors by priests, the Holy See expresses its support for all victims and it confirms the path to protect minors, guaranteed safe spaces for them," the Vatican added.