German bishops sabotage child abuse inquiry

This video says about itself:

The Catholic church in Germany is under an increasing amount of pressure as more cases of sexual abuse in its schools and institutions come to light.

From Deutsche Welle in Germany:

Catholic Church in Germany calls off study on sexual abuse

The Catholic Church in Germany has terminated an investigation into alleged cases of sexual abuse by clergy members. It is unclear whether the research will be continued by a different team.

The German Bishops’ Conference confirmed that it has ended cooperation with the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony (KFN) which had been investigating sexual abuse cases committed by employees of the Catholic Church, citing the lack of trust.

“The relationship of mutual trust between the bishops and the head of the institute has been destroyed,” the Bishop of Trier, Stephan Ackermann, explained on Wednesday morning, saying that constructive cooperation had become impossible.

“Trust is vital for such an extensive project dealing with such a sensitive issue.”

In an interview with public broadcaster “Deutschlandfunk,” Christian Pfeiffer, the head of the KFN institute accused Church officials of hampering his team’s research efforts by continually attempting to intervene in and control the investigation. In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper he spoke of censorship.

In 2011, the German Bishops’ Conference had authorized the KFN to launch an investigation into sexual abuse cases. This followed reports of abuse at several Catholic schools across Germany, claiming that children had repeatedly been abused.

The team of experts around Christian Pfeiffer consisted of retired prosecutors and judges and was allowed access to personnel records on Church employees going back more than a decade.

The investigation was to determine how such abuses came about, how the Church had dealt with them in the past, and what conclusions could be drawn to prevent new cases.

This followed a spate of allegations in 2010 of abuse of children by priests and other Church employees and the subsequent criticism of the Church’s slow response.

The Catholic Church officially apologized to the victims in March of 2010, and offered victims 5,000 euros ($6,546) each in compensation.

See also here.

The Catholic Church in Germany has closed its hotline for victims of sexual abuse due to lack of use. Critics say the church is not doing enough to counter this ongoing problem: here.

13 thoughts on “German bishops sabotage child abuse inquiry

  1. German Catholic bishops sack sex abuse study head

    By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

    PARIS | Wed Jan 9, 2013 10:03pm IST

    (Reuters) – Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops sacked a criminologist studying sexual abuse of minors by their priests on Wednesday, prompting him to accuse them of trying to censor what was to be a major report on the scandals.

    The independent study, examining church files sometimes dating back to 1945, was meant to shed light on undiscovered cases of abuse after about 600 people filed claims against molesting priests in 2010 following a wave of revelations there.

    The German scandals were part of a series of abuse scandals that also shook the Catholic Church in Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands and forced Pope Benedict to issue a public apology.

    Bishop Stephan Ackermann, spokesman on abuse issues for the German Bishops Conference, said the hierarchy had lost confidence in the researcher, criminologist Christian Pfeiffer, and would look for another specialist to take up the study.

    “We regret that this project … cannot be continued and we will have to find a new partner,” Ackermann said in a statement that blamed Pfeiffer’s “communications behaviour with church officials” for the breakdown.

    Pfeiffer told German Radio the bishops wanted to change previously agreed guidelines for the project to include a final veto over publishing its results, which he could not accept.

    “Everything was settled reasonably and then suddenly came … an attempt to turn the whole contract towards censorship and stronger control by the church,” said Pfeiffer, head of the Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute.


    The critical lay Catholic movement We Are Church called the decision “a devastating signal for the credibility of the church leadership” that showed the bishops could not accept an independent inquiry into the scandals.

    The mainstream Central Committee of German Catholics expressed regret that the study “cannot be carried out in the agreed way” and said any new study should be up to the standards of independent academic research.

    In Germany, some 180,000 Catholics left the church in protest in 2010, a 40 percent jump over the previous year, after revelations about abuse in boarding schools prompted about 600 people to file accusations of abuse against priests.

    Similar probes into the records of priests accused of molesting children have been conducted in recent years in Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands, sometimes with devastating results for the reputation of the church involved.

    Ireland was deeply shocked when several inquiries conducted by the government revealed widespread abuse and a pattern of secrecy to cover them up. Three bishops resigned as a result.

    An official Dutch report said up to 20,000 children had been sexually abused in Catholic orphanages, boarding schools and seminaries between 1945 and 2010. Some 1,975 people filed complaints as victims.

    A commission set up by the Belgian church received 475 reports of abuse before its premises were raided in 2010 by police seeking evidence for possible criminal cases against predator priests. It reported 13 victims were driven to suicide.

    Revelations of sexual abuse cases in the United States starting in the 1990s led to a wave of court cases there costing the church $2 billion in settlements and a few diocesan bankruptcies.


    Speaking to German Radio, Ackermann accused Pfeiffer of reinterpreting his research contract and said the bishops had tried to clarify some points in the agreement because they feared he would publish results without their permission.

    “We weren’t trying to hold things back,” he said. “We want a similar project to go ahead and we will look for a new partner.”

    Ackermann noted that another researcher had produced a parallel report into the abuse crisis without any problem.

    That study, which concluded most priests accused of sexual abuse were psychologically normal, was lambasted as a whitewash by victims’ support groups.

    Pfeiffer also said he found out after starting his study, which was supposed to study files for nine dioceses since 1945 and 18 dioceses for the period 2000 to 2010, that files on priests convicted of sexual abuse could be destroyed 10 years after the verdict.

    He said his team of researchers would continue its work without church support, appealing to victims to report their cases to them so they can produce a report on their experiences.

    (Reporting By Tom Heneghan; Editing by Jon Boyle)


    • Sexual abuse certainly is not limited to the Roman Catholic church. It is also in secular organizations, like the Boy Scouts and armed forces (including in Germany). However, these organisations do not claim to derive their authority from God. So, in principle, it is easier to challenge their behaviour if one is a religious person.


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