Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

'Thousands' abused by German priests

A report on sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church in Germany says 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014, two leading German media outlets said Wednesday.

"The study is a course of action which we owe not only to the church, but above all and foremost to those affected", Bishop Ackermann said. About one in six cases involved rape.

More than 50 percent of the victims were reportedly 13 years old or younger.

All 27 dioceses in Germany participated in the research project.

In their conclusions, the researchers write that there was evidence that some files were manipulated or destroyed, many cases were not brought to justice, and that sometimes abuse suspects - primarily priests - were simply moved to other dioceses without the congregations being informed about their past.

While some of the comments and statements from the Vatican since the scandal have been met with scorn, Pope Francis has since called for a meeting of Catholic church leaders to address the issue in February.

Der Spiegel quoted the study as saying that the Church had often transferred clerics accused of sexual abuse without providing the new host community with "appropriate information" about them.

More than 3,600 children were sexually assaulted by Catholic priests in Germany over almost seven decades, local media reported on Wednesday (Sept 12), citing a study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference.

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He said the aim of the study was to shed light on "this dark side of our Church, for the sake of those affected, but also for us ourselves to see the errors and to do everything to prevent them from being repeated".

"It is depressing and shameful for us", Bishop Stephan Ackermann said.

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.

The Vatican did not immediately respond to Spiegel's account of the report.

Earlier this week, the Vatican said it is preparing the "necessary clarifications" about accusations that top Vatican officials - including Pope Francis himself - covered up the sexual misconduct of the now-disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the US.

In August, the Pope condemned the "atrocities" of child sex abuse in a letter to the world's 1.2bn Roman Catholics.

It came after a grand jury report detailed seven decades of abuse in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Last year, a world-famous Catholic choir school in Germany, the Regensburger Domspatzen school, revealed that more than 500 boys there suffered sexual or physical abuse in what victims have likened to "prison, hell or a concentration camp".

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