Protest against Benedict's German visit
“I did it because he could have stopped them but instead he remained silent"
Wilfried Fesselmann is 43 years old and is one of the victims of abuse who yesterday filed an appeal against the Pope at the Court in The Hague. In 1979, when he was 11 years old, he was abused by Father Hullermann, who a year later was transferred from the diocese of Essen to the archdiocese of Munich and Freising - then led by Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger - to undergo psychiatric therapy. Afterwards Hullermann abused other children. He was suspended only last year, when the Fesselmann case became public.
Interview with Wilfried Fesslmann, the man who wants to take the Pope to court. He suffered abuse by a priest and was compensated with 5,000 Euro
Why did you file a report against the Pope?
"Because he is the head of the Church worldwide and is responsible for all priests. The problem lies in the fact that priests who are guilty of abuse are transferred from one diocese to another. Father Hullermann counts at least 17 victims. His successor as well, who began working in Essen like him, took advantage of some young boys and was transferred from Essen to Munster. The strategy is always the same. Every time the dioceses responds: "You're the first victim, we never heard anything like that". Meanwhile, pedophile priests are transferred from one city to another. We want to put an end to this strategy."
What specifically do you expect from Benedict XVI?
"Apologies. He should finally take a stand on this issue and admit that mistakes were made. He should also block pedophile priests that are still active. In the indictment we filed at The Hague there are the names of at least 300 pedophile priests in Germany, some of whom still are still in office. The Pope should remove them and reveal their names. Then I would be happy if the Pope decided to meet with me in Berlin during his visit next week, since he is directly involved in my case, after having received Hullermann in Munich. I have already written to various institutions, including the German Bishops' Conference and the Vatican, but he has no interest in meeting me, which I cannot understand. I will go to Berlin to participate in the protests against his visit."
What would you say if you could meet him?
"I would ask him why he did this to me and to others. If he had blocked Hullermann in 1979 there would not have been other victims besides me."
Did you file an appeal at this moment because of the upcoming visit to Germany?
"No, it's a very long and complex process, we have been collecting documents since March."
Do you want to achieve other objectives with this appeal?
"We are angry for the way the compensation issue was handled. In Germany, these crimes have already lapsed. But the victims need up to 20-25 years to talk about what happened. It took me over 25 years. In addition, on average, German victims were compensated with 5,000 Euro. Father Hullermann lives in Munich, has an apartment that is paid for and a housekeeper, and he still keeps receiving his salary from the archdiocese as if nothing had happened. It’s not possible that he earns around 5,300 Euro per month, while the victims were compensated with just one lump sum of 5,000 Euro. It’s just not enough."
What are you doing today?
"For 10 years I was diagnosed with panic attacks related to the abuse. Since then I have not been able to work."
What will happen now with the appeal?
"First of all the Court must examine the material: three CDs plus various boxes full of documents. It will take at least three weeks to do this."