Catholic Church in Germany kills cooperation with clerical abuse investigators

A CONTRACT agreed in 2011 between the German Bishops’ Conference and Lower Saxony Institute for Criminology (KFN) – aimed at carrying out one the most comprehensive investigations of clerical child abuse in the world – has hit the barriers.

According to this report, cooperation between the Church and the KFN ended:

Due to unacceptable interference by the Church.

The break was announced by KFN Director Christian Pfeiffer. He said that project had been scuppered by the:

Censorship and control requests of the Church.

In terms of the contract, the complete files of all of Germany’s dioceses ­ – some dating as far back as World War II – were to be scrutinised for evidence of child abuse.

Protesters hold a banner which reads 'Bishops, stop the sexual abuse' in the southern German city of Freiburg on February 22, 2010. (MICHAEL LATZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Protesters hold a banner which reads ‘Bishops, stop the sexual abuse’ in the southern German city of Freiburg on February 22, 2010. (MICHAEL LATZ/AFP/Getty Images)

But last year, the Church demanded changes to the contract following complaints from priests and some bishops. These amendments included giving the Church the power to veto the publication of results and the appointment of new researchers.

Pfeiffer also said there were indications that the Church had destroyed incriminating files in several dioceses, a claim denied by the Association of German Dioceses’ (VDD) Chairman Hans Langendörfer. He said:

I have no evidence that abuse files were destroyed.

A spokesman for the archdiocese of Munich and Freising rejected Pfeiffer’s claims, saying that there was absolutely no grounds for talk of “censorship requests.”

Instead, the discussion had been about:

How the unconditional will for clarification in the interests of the victims could be brought together with the necessary duty of care towards church workers.

He added that the main issue was data protection.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, according to this report, said she had demanded an immediate explanation from the Church.

The Bishops’ Conference says it plans to commission a new abuse inquiry from a different team in the coming months.

Surveys in 2010 showed that only 30 percent of Germans believed the RCC was capable of honesty. Only 20 per cent believed that the Church would help to investigate abuse claims, with 68 percent saying they did not think it would cooperate with any investigations.

Meanwhile, in Holland, a plan to “name and shame” Catholics who desert the RCC has been knocked on the head by the Church.

Tilburg minister Harm Schilder said he wanted to pin photographs of deserters in the doorway of his parish church. This, he said

Will allow the congregation to pray for them and perhaps convince them to stay.

The plan was dropped when Church officials from the diocese of Den Bosch said the minister was free to do what he wants, but urged him to respect people’s privacy.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of people leaving the Catholic church since the Pope condemned gay marriage last month.

Schilder now says he is not planning to “name and shame” people leaving the church but that prayer is the only option open to try and change things.

The privacy watchdog CBP has also commented on the case and said it would have been “more decent” if Schilder had asked people first if they minded being named in public.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Catholic Church’s Peter Kearney has blamed anti-Catholic sentiments there on secularism. He claimed that the main “proponents of anti-Catholic intolerance” were the champions of secularism, rather than the “militantly Protestant quarters” of the early-1980s

Hat tip : BarrieJohn (German report), Glenn (Dutch report) & Euan  (Scottish report)