Two months after his death, Bavarian Radio reported the Hullermann case had also followed Ratzinger to Rome, where he became an influential adviser to Pope John Paul II in 1982.
A 1986 letter he wrote gave Vatican permission for the wayward priest to celebrate Mass with grape juice rather than wine because he was an alcoholic.
Amid these revelations, Andreas Perr, now 39, spoke up to claim he had been sexually abused by Hullermann in the 1990s in Garching an der Alz.
Since criminal charges were beyond the statute of limitations, Perr filed a civil suit for 50,000 euros in damages from the heirs and another 300,000 euros from the Munich Archdiocese. In addition, he asked the defendants to pay any future costs resulting from the abuse.
His petition listed the consequences of his abuse as “traumatic nightmares, flashbacks and symptoms of avoidance related to repressing the stressful memories of the violent event.”
All this would not be so complicated if Benedict had not stepped down in 2013, the first pontiff to resign in six centuries. Normally, a pope who dies in office leaves everything to the Holy See, the central government of the Roman Catholic Church.
“Papa Ratzinger,” as the Italians called him, earned royalties from the many books he wrote and salaries from universities where he was a theology professor. He also had a comfortable income during his time as archbishop of Munich.
In his initial letter to Ratzinger’s cousins, Gänswein revealed neither how much money was at stake nor how many cousins survived to share it. He also made clear that neither book royalties nor personal items were part of the package.
Talking to journalists in March, he revealed that there were five cousins and that among them they stood to inherit “what might still be in the bank account.” It sounded like it might be a small sum.
But nobody knows what those future costs arising from abuse will amount to. The Munich Archdiocese has further complicated the issue by saying it was ready to pay “compensation for the suffering of the plaintiff and to find an appropriate solution for any damage claims that go beyond this.”
“It’s like in the movies,” a bewildered Holzinger, the first Ratzinger relative to come forward, said of the inheritance case.
“I work at a school myself, so children are very important to me. I’m really interested that these things are cleared up and that any plaintiffs get their rights.”
This article originally appeared here.