The study criticized the late German pope’s handling of four cases during his time in charge of the southern German archdiocese.
Benedict XVI, who strongly denied cover-up allegations, sent 82 pages of observations to investigators compiling the report.
On Tuesday, the public prosecutor’s office in the Bavarian capital of Munich said: “Insofar as suspicions arose from these events with regard to possible criminally relevant conduct by Church officials, separate preliminary investigation processes were initially entered.”
The office examined “in particular whether an ecclesiastical responsible person could have aided and abetted, through a personnel decision, an act of abuse committed later by a priest that was subject to the statute of limitations.”
In addition to Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Wetter, who served as Ratzinger’s successor until 2007 and has issued an apology, former vicar general Gerhard Gruber also had been named an accused.
Cardinal Marx, the current archbishop, last year apologized and said he considered offering Pope Francis his resignation for a second time. Marx was not subject to the investigation now dropped.
On Tuesday, the public prosecutor’s office said: “In each case, the investigations did not reveal sufficient suspicion of criminal activity on the part of those responsible for personnel, which is why the preliminary proceedings were discontinued.”
In two cases in which Cardinal Ratzinger was considered an accused, “the examinations led to the conclusion that either no main offense eligible for assistance could be proven or, in any case, such an offense could no longer be prosecuted due to the occurrence of the statute of limitations.”
“From a legal point of view, it must be emphasized that the object of investigation of the prosecutor’s investigations was not acts of abuse committed by the Church personnel managers themselves, but possible acts of aiding and abetting by active action or omission,” the prosecutor’s office said.
“The prerequisite for criminal aiding and abetting is first that a prosecutable offense (such as sexual abuse of children) is committed by another perpetrator (in this case by a priest). In a second step, it must then be examined whether and in what form an ecclesiastically responsible person aided and abetted this act.”