The topic of abuse has been an enormous burden on the catholic church for many years – now a rough study has reviewed the situation in germany and brought forth some shocking results.
"Spiegel" and "zeit" published advance results of the investigation, which the german bishops’ conference (DBK) will not officially release until 25. September wanted to present. Sexual abuse of children and adolescents in the church was widespread in the past – and is by no means over today. There is reason to believe that the abuse will continue, it said.
According to the reports, the authors, on behalf of the DBK, evaluated more than 38.000 personnel and hand files from the 27 german bishoprics extracted from. For the period from 1946 to 2014, sexual offenses against 3677 predominantly male minors were recorded there, the "spiegel" report said.
A total of 1670 clerics had committed these acts. 4.4 percent of all clerics in the german bishoprics were suspected abusers. More than every second victim was at most 13 years old, in every sixth case there were forms of rape.
The bishop of trier, stephan ackermann, who is responsible for abuse issues at the DBK, said that the church is aware of the extent of abuse. "It is oppressive and shameful for us"."The premature publication is "regrettable", especially since "not even the members of the DBK are aware of the entire study".
The cases mentioned are probably only a part of what actually happened. "Insights into the dark field were not obtained", write the authors of the study, according to "spiegel". The "zeit" quotes: "in some cases there were clear indications of file manipulation."In at least two bishoprics, files were destroyed. In view of this, the catholic reform movement "wir sind kirche" commented that the results were "outrageous, but probably only the tip of the iceberg".
In addition: the authors of the study had no access to the original files. All archives and files had been looked through by the church personnel themselves, not by the authors. The federal government’s commissioner for abuse, johannes-wilhelm rorig, had recently criticized the fact that not all bistums had opened their archives for the study. Ackermann denied this.
What is disturbing is that the authors of the study reportedly see no reason to assume "that the sexual abuse of minors by clerics of the catholic church is an issue that has been closed in the past and has been overcome in the meantime". Instead, the series of abuse traps continued until the end of the investigation period.
The accused clerics were often simply transferred to another parish – without the parish knowing about it. The willingness of the church to punish offenders must be considered "not very pronounced," it was said.
When asked about the reasons for the persistent abuse, the authors had been reticent, writes the "spiegel". However, the experts concluded that the catholic church’s "fundamental rejection" of the consecration of homosexuals "urgently needs to be reconsidered. Moreover, the question must be allowed whether the commitment to celibacy – to the celibacy of the priest – is "a possible risk factor".
Matthias katsch, who in 2010 helped to initiate the discussion about the abuse scandal at the canisius college in berlin, was shaken by it. The church in germany, as in other countries, is "entangled in a system of abuse and cover-up" and has "understood for decades how to swap the publicity about it". The study shows "only a part of the reality", there are no statements from victims, and there were no interrogations of witnesses.
On top of that, incidents in the numerous religious communities were not even included in the investigation. "The victims of canisius college, ettal monastery, the regensburger domspatzen and all the other boarding schools, schools, homes have not been taken into account in this study," katsch commented.
Abuse has become an ongoing issue for the church. New scandals are constantly coming to light. It recently became known that in the USA, in the state of pennsylvania alone, more than 300 priests have been accused of child abuse. In ireland, once a strict catholic country, pope franciscus asked for forgiveness at the end of august. In view of the scandals, the pope has called together the heads of all national bishops’ conferences for a summit meeting. According to the vatican, there will be a new meeting of the 21. Until 24. February take place.