Thousands of sex abuse cases in German Catholic Church – report
More than half of the victims were younger than 13 and predominantly male. The study's findings were based on documented cases that occurred over more than six decades.
A study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference examined 3,677 cases of abuse allegedly perpetrated by clergy nationwide, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday. The universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim were involved in the research, which implicated 1,670 priests in sexual abuse spanning from 1946 to 2014.
The report comes amidst a resurfacing of abuse and cover-up allegations against the Catholic Church around the world. Pope Francis has apologized and pledged to support victims in their search for justice, but he has also been singled out for inaction against abuser priests in the past.
The victims in Germany were predominantly male and more than half of them were 13 years of age or younger. Every sixth case involved a rape, and in three-quarters of the cases the victim and perpetrator knew each other through the church.
More cases could exists, the study cautions, noting that the figures represent a conservative estimate. German newspaper Die Zeit reported that researchers were not allowed to look at original church files, but relied on information provided by the dioceses.
In many cases, files containing information about the accusers were "destroyed or manipulated," contributing to the difficulty in assessing the extent of the abuse.
The study warned that there was no reason to believe that sexual abuse of minors by Catholic Church clergy was a thing of the past, as continued abuse was still occurring in 2014, the last year of the investigative period.
Accused priests were often quietly transferred to other parishes, without providing the affected communities with information about the abuser. The church pursued only a third of abusers, who submitted themselves to church law. But they received either minimal sanctions or dismissed charges altogether.
Pope Francis summons bishops to Vatican for summit on preventing sex abuse
Jane Onyanga-Omara | USA TODAY
Published 7:53 AM EDT Sep 12, 2018
Pope Francis has summoned the presidents of Catholic bishops conferences worldwide to the Vatican in February to discuss how to stop clergy from sexually abusing children.
The meeting, on February 21-24, is believed to be the first of its kind. Some clergy from the Catholic Church have been carrying out abuse for decades.