For the legions of people whose childhoods and adult lives were wrecked by sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy, Pope Benedict XVI is an unloved pontiff who will not be missed.
Pictured: Children play in St Peters' Square at the Vatican. Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, was in charge of investigating sex abuse scandals but critics say he covered up paedophilia. Photograph: Gregorio Borgia/ AP
Victims of the epidemic of sex- and child-abuse scandals that erupted under Benedict's papacy reacted bitterly to his resignation, either charging the outgoing pontiff with being directly complicit in a criminal conspiracy to cover up the thousands of paedophilia cases that have come to light over the past three years, or with failing to stand up to reactionary elements in the church resolved to keep the scandals under wraps.
From Benedict's native Germany to the USA, abuse victims and campaigners criticised an eight-year papacy that struggled to cope with the flood of disclosures of crimes and abuse rampant for decades within the church. Matthias Katsch, of the NetworkB group of German clerical-abuse victims, said: "The rule of law is more important than a new pope."
Norbert Denef, 64, from the Baltic coast of north Germany, was abused as a boy by his local priest for six years. In 2003, Denef took his case to the bishop of Magdeburg. He was offered €25,000 (then £17,000) in return for a signed pledge of silence about what he suffered as a six-year-old boy. He then raised the issue with the Vatican and received a letter that said Pope John Paul II would pray for him so that Denef could forgive his molester.
"We won't miss this pope," said Denef. He likened the Vatican's treatment of the molestation disclosures to "mafia-style organised crime rings".
That view was echoed by David Clohessy in the US, executive director of SNAP (Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests), an organisation with 12,000 members: "His record is terrible. Before he became pope, his predecessor put him in charge of the abuse crisis.
"He has read thousands of pages of reports of the abuse cases from across the world. He knows more about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups than anyone else in the church yet he has done precious little to protect children."
Jakob Purkarthofer, of Austria's Platform for Victims of Church Violence, said: "Ratzinger was part of the system and co-responsible for these crimes."
SOURCE: Ian Traynor in Brussels, Karen McVeigh in New York and Henry McDonald in Dublin