Catholic priests abused thousands in Germany

Blanche Robertson
September 15, 2018

The report - commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference and conducted by the Universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim - has taken four years to assemble and will be released in full on September 25. Its authors said the true extent of the abuse may be even greater, as some records were "destroyed or manipulated".

Ackermann said in the statement that the aim of the study was to "gain more clarity and transparency about this dark side of our church, for the sake of those affected, but also to see for ourselves the wrongdoings and to ensure this can not be repeated". Numerous priests caught abusing had recently been transferred to other parishes and a mere one-third of accused members of the clergy were investigated by the Catholic Church.

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 crisis in the Catholic church since the revelations of sexual abuse by clergy and subsequent coverup has hit the head of the church hard - at least in his favorability ratings. It presents the results of an investigation spanning all 27 German dioceses. "We are dismayed and ashamed by it", said Bishop Stephan Ackermann, a spokesman for the German Bishops' Conference which commissioned the report.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has been trying to identify those next steps for years now - and it seems like every day, disturbing new information comes out.

Only one third of those accused had to face legal proceedings by the Church and sanctions, if imposed at all, were minimal, it said, adding that 4 percent of those found to have committed sexual abuse were still working.

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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.

Francis will meet the presidents of the Catholic bishops conferences from around the world in the Vatican from February 21-24, according to a Vatican statement on Wednesday.

Claims of clerical sex abuse have been levelled around the world, and with them allegations that Church leaders hushed up or ignored the wrongdoing.

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

Wuerl has faced calls to resign, including from a local deacon at St. Matthew's Cathedral and many other D.C. -area Catholics over his handling of sex abuse allegations by Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania when Wuerl was bishop there almost 30 years ago.

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