German Catholic Church admits "shameful" abuse legacy after stats leaked

Lester Mason
September 15, 2018

Der Spiegel said the German study, which examined more than 38,000 files from 27 dioceses, showed more than half of the victims were aged 13 years or under when they were abused. The study documents 3,677 cases of abuse. The report also found systemic mishandling of allegations of sexual abuse by the German Catholic hierarchy.

About one in six of the cases documented involved a form of rape and three quarters of the victims were abused in a church or through a pastoral relationship with the abuser, Spiegel cited the study as saying.

The universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim were involved in the four-year research, which implicated 1,670 priests in sexual abuse from 1946 to 2014, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday, according to the news outlet Deutsche Welle.

Predator priests were often transferred to another location, with information on their criminal history not provided to the new site.

The research team also stated that they "did not have access to the original files of the Catholic Church" but that all "archives and files of the dioceses had been investigated only by diocesan personnel or by law firms hired by the dioceses". "We are dismayed and ashamed by it", said Bishop Stephan Ackermann on behalf of the conference.

"I stress that the study is a measure that we owe not only to the Church but first and foremost, to those affected".

The damning report, which Cardinal Reinhard Marx is to present officially on Sept 25, deals another blow to the Church after clerical child abuse has been uncovered worldwide.

"For my shortcomings of the past and of the present I take full responsibility and wish that I could wipe away all the pain, confusion and disillusionment that people feel, and I wish that I could redo some decisions I have made in my three decades as a bishop and each time get it right", Wuerl said in the September 13 letter. It established that there were 4,756 reported claims to Catholic Church authorities over child sexual abuse concerning 1,880 suspected abusers from 1980 to 2015.

The Church had planned to offer counselling helplines around the official publication date of the report for people who are affected by it, he said.

The leaked study was published on the day Pope Francis summoned the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences to a summit on preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children, responding to the greatest crisis of his papacy with the realisation that Vatican inaction on the growing scandal now threatens his legacy.

Pope Francis was caught up in the scandal last month, after a former Vatican diplomat accused him of ignoring allegations against a United States cardinal for five years.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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