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Pedophilia: “We are overwhelmed and ashamed,” say German bishops

Bishops at the episcopal conference in Fulda, Germany, where they must discuss issues of pedophilia on 25 September.

Big report on thousands of cases of sexual abuse of minors just released

Eight years: this is the time it took the German Catholic Church to take the measure of the scandal. By publishing a 350-page study in Fulda (Hesse) on Tuesday, 25 September, on the “sexual abuse of minors by priests, deacons and Catholic monks” from 1946 to 2014, the German Bishops’ Conference wants to convince public opinion that the page opened in 2010 is definitely turned. That year, the country had been shaken by serial revelations of former pedophilia cases in several prominent Catholic institutions, such as the Canisius Jesuit College in Berlin, or the Regensburg (Bavaria) singing choir, directed for thirty years by Georg Ratzinger, whose brother, Benedict XVI, was pope when the scandal broke out.

Essentially, the content of the study – commissioned by the Bishops’ Conference in 2013 and piloted by a team of researchers from the universities of Heidelberg, Mannheim and Giessen – is already known since the leaks appeared on 12 September in Die Zeit and Der Spiegel. Over sixty-eight years, the authors were able to establish that 1,670 members of the German Catholic Church sexually assaulted 3,677 minors, the majority of whom were boys under the age of 13, which means that at least all religious have abused children. Yet this is only a bottom-line assessment, with the authors recognizing that cases have necessarily escaped them. According to their statistics, three out of four victims were assaulted in a church or pastoral activity. One in six victims was raped.

The study also highlights the impunity enjoyed by the attackers. Of the 1,670 religious involved, only 566, about a third, were pursued canonically. Among them, barely forty have been excluded from the Church, most of the procedures being concluded by …

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