To the extent that this scene seeks to uphold the calumny that Pope Benedict in some way collaborated in the cover-up of clerical child abuse, it is false and grossly libellous. It was Ratzinger who, as Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, altered the canonical procedures to make it possible to remove those using the priesthood to prey upon—mostly—teenage boys. As Pope Benedict, he kicked hundreds of such individuals out of the priesthood, including Maciel. In fact, it was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who in 2001 authorized an investigation into the accusations against Maciel. This investigation continued until 2006, by which time Ratzinger had become Pope Benedict XVI and his successor, Cardinal William Levada, decided—“taking into account both the advanced age of Father Maciel as well as his poor health—to drop the canonical process and invite him to a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing all public ministry.” Pope Benedict approved these decisions. Maciel died in 2008, the highest-ranking priest ever disciplined because of sexual abuse allegations.
There is no mention in the movie of Julio Grassi, the priest currently serving a 15-year sentence for sexually abusing minors in Argentina’s most notorious clerical sex abuse scandal. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio did his best to protect Grassi from secular justice, even arranging for the Argentinian bishops’ conference, which was under his presidency, to commission a leading Argentine criminal defense attorney to compile a “forensic study” that claimed Grassi was innocent and sought to discredit his victims. During his trial, Grassi praised Cardinal Bergoglio and thanked him for his support, saying that “Bergoglio never let go of my hand.” Pope Francis has persistently refused to meet with Argentinian victims of clerical sex abuse.