Traunstein: Charges after the theft of Pope’s pectoral cross – Bavaria

After the theft of a pectoral cross of the former Pope Benedict XVI. The public prosecutor’s office has brought charges against a 53-year-old man from a church in Traunstein. He is accused of theft in a particularly serious case and damage to property, said the authority’s press spokesman, Senior Public Prosecutor Rainer Vietze, on Tuesday. The man denies the allegations.

The hearing should take place before the lay judges’ court at the Traunstein district court, provided that the prosecution admits the main hearing. The so-called pectoral has not yet been found. The cross, which has an inestimable spiritual value for believers, is about 10 to 15 centimeters tall, made of gold-plated silver and set with various precious stones. The material value could not be determined exactly, but according to the prosecution it is at least 800 euros.

On June 19, the man is said to have pried open and damaged the plexiglass pane in front of the cross in the Traunstein town church of St Oswald with an aluminum sign attached nearby. He is also said to have broken into the magazine stand at the back of the church and stolen an undisclosed amount of cash. The material damage amounts to more than 2000 euros.

The theft caused a particular stir because the next day a trial involving an abuse scandal began at the Traunstein regional court, in which the late Pope was originally listed as a defendant. However, initial speculation about a possible connection between the theft and the trial was not confirmed.

The pectoral cross remains missing

According to the public prosecutor’s office, the suspect was convicted of various property crimes in Germany and later in other European countries since 1990 and was behind bars several times. He has been in custody in Bavaria since October. In view of the high search pressure, the man went to the police station at his place of residence in the Czech Republic in August 2023. He was arrested there and later extradited to Germany.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to search for the missing Pope’s cross. A reward of 1,000 euros has been offered for crucial information. As Pope, Benedict owned several pectoral crosses. He often wore the cross stolen in Traunstein on special occasions, such as papal masses in St. Peter’s Basilica or important audiences and receptions. It went to Benedict’s home parish in Traunstein when the Pope had already retired.

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