Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI says in a new document that protections built into the Vatican's legal protections worked in favor of clergy accused of sex abuse to the point of making a conviction "nearly impossible" in past decades.

Corriere della Sera on Thursday quoted from the 18-page document titled "The Church and the sex abuse scandal," which was published by the German monthly Klerusblatt. The diocesan association was unable to provide a copy of the original text.

Benedict wrote that during the 1980s and 1990s, "the right to a defense was so broad as to make a conviction nearly impossible."

Benedict took a hard line against clerical sex abuse as the Vatican's conservative doctrine chief, and later as pope, defrocking hundreds of priests accused of raping and molesting children.l