Germany’s justice minister says that the “shocking” report into the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy is “probably only the tip of the iceberg”
The results of an investigation into decades of sexual abuse of children was presented by the German Catholic church on Tuesday.
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The report detailed the cases of 3,677 children, mostly male, who were sexually abused between 1946 and 2014. At least 1,670 clerics, mainly priests, have been implicated.
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The report which was leaked earlier this month found that more than half of the victims had been younger than 13 the first time they were abused and that 83% of attacks were planned
The Guardian reports: The justice minister, Katarina Barley, encouraged the church to work with the judicial system to bring as many cases as possible to court.
On a recent visit to Ireland, while the issue of sexual abuse dominated the agenda, the pope was accused of failing to address victims’ concerns adequately.
Although Tuesday’s report – details of which were leaked earlier this month – was the biggest of its kind for the German Catholic church, its authors were critical of church leaders for having denied them access to other Catholic institutions, including children’s homes and schools.
The report detailed how 60% of abusive priests eluded punishment, and how many were systematically moved to other parishes in the hope their crimes could be hushed up.
The government-appointed envoy for sexual abuse of children, Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, urged the church to pay compensation to the victims. He also said it should give state authorities access to its archives to allow state prosecutors to examine every allegation.
The first case of sexual abuse in the Catholic church in Germany was uncovered about 10 years ago. Critics say the church has not done enough to prevent further clerical abuse.
Church leaders are under pressure to announce reforms before the end of the four-day conference on Thursday.
The report was compiled using data collected from 27 German dioceses, and included 38,000 mostly anonymous documents. But the authors, who were appointed by the church and spent four years working on the report, said they were not allowed access to any original files from the church’s own archives and that the files from at least two dioceses had been manipulated or destroyed.
Christian Pfeiffer, a criminologist tasked with carrying out the study in 2011, said the church had made itself “untrustworthy” by not allowing full access to its archives. He has complained about alleged censorship and a lack of transparency on the part of the church.