Bleak picture of Catholic abuse revealed in new German probe
A sexual abuse commission funded by the German Bishops’ Conference found that 3,677 mostly male minors had been sexually abused by 1,670 priests between 1946 and 2014.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, above, had intended to make public the results of an independent research team’s probe on September 25, but, according to this report, two major German major media outlets – Der Spiegel and Die Zeit – jumped the gun and today (Wednesday) leaked the findings.
Following the same pattern observed in other countries – most recently in America where a grand jury report was published in Pennsylvania – the Catholic Church in Germany transferred abusing priests to other parishes – and only a third of them were ever investigated by the church.
More than half of the victims were, at the most, 13 years old, reported Walter Mayr for Der Spiegel. He also pointed out, quoting from an executive summary of the official report that is to be presented by Cardinal Marx, that in many cases the archives and files concerning the accused clergymen have been “destroyed or manipulated.”
Die Zeit commented:
For the first time, the Catholic Church admits what she has covered up for years and then played down.
But the given numbers of abuse cases in the report, according to journalist Evelyn Finger, above, is the lowest possible number.
That is to say, behind the most important numbers which have been listed here, there stands the invisible ‘at least’. The truth is much worse.
There is strong evidence that the church took part in the probe on its own terms and may have pulled the wool over the eyes of researchers. The research team stated:
The study project did not have access to the original files of the Catholic Church. All archives and files of the dioceses had been investigated only by diocesan personnel or by law firms hired by the dioceses.
Finger pointed out:
None of the scientists ever had in their hands files from the Church’s archives. That is why this study is not really independent. The institution that had to be investigated controlled the investigation.
Finger makes it clear that the Church, if it took actional at all against abusing priests:
Chose rather soft punishments such as early retirement, interdiction to celebrate Mass, therapy, leave of absence, reprimand, low fees, or just simply retreats.
These punishments, Finger comments, were “less than fitting”. In only about seven percent of the cases did the bishops call upon the state to investigate the committed crimes.
The journalist also reported that “up to 8% of the whole clergy” was found to be abusers.
The majority of the abusers did not show signs of repentance.
The research team – a secular group of scientists – makes some general recommendations at the end of their report. “Strict sexual morality” and “obligatory celibacy” are seen as problems. Clericalism is also mentioned, and:
The rejection of the ordination of homosexual men should urgently be reconsidered.