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A pectoral cross bequeathed by the late Pope Benedict XVI to a parish in his native Bavaria has been stolen from the church where it was on display.

According to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language partner news agency, unknown perpetrators broke open a display case on the wall of St. Oswald’s Church in the city of Traunstein during daylight hours Monday.

Police said cash was also stolen from the cash register of a literature stand in the church.

The value of the cross to the Catholic Church is “not quantifiable,” the police said. Authorities are asking anyone who saw anyone suspicious near St. Oswald’s on Monday or has any other information to come forward. The Traunstein district attorney’s office is leading the investigation.

Former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was born in the small Bavarian community of Marktl am Inn. When Joseph was 2 years old, his father moved the family to Traunstein, where he studied at the seminary.

According to a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, the late pontiff celebrated his first Mass as a newly ordained priest at St. Oswald’s in 1951. After the renovation in 2020, the cross was exhibited in the now-broken display case.

On Tuesday the Traunstein Regional Court was scheduled to hear the case of a plaintiff who is suing the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising and Benedict’s heirs for damages. The man says he was sexually abused by Father Peter Hullermann during the time the future pope was archbishop of Munich.

In February 2022, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI personally asked for forgiveness from abuse survivors in a letter responding to a report that faulted his handling of cases during his tenure.

By AC Wimmer

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