Two German major media outlets – Der Spiegel and Die Zeit – leaked today the findings of a sexual abuse commission funded by the German Bishops’ Conference and which Cardinal Reinhard Marx had planned to present to the public on 25 September.
The report shows that many abusing priests were simply transferred to other parishes and that only one-third of them were ever investigated by the Church.
The majority of victims were boys under 14 years of age. There also now arise serious concerns about the lack of academic independence of the official researchers.
The leaked information about the so-called “MHG Study” is causing a great stir in Germany, since it finally brings to light the murky history of the German bishops’ handling of abuse cases. And, as expected, their conduct is similar to many bishops in the U.S.: cover-ups and moving priests into another parish.
As Der Spiegel reports, the study which had been conducted by a team stemming from three German universities (Mannheim, Heidelberg, and Gießen) in the name of the German Bishops’ Conference under Cardinal Marx, looked into abuse cases from 1946 until 2014. Importantly, the study states that there were counted “3,677 mostly male minors as victims of sexual abuse.”
1,670 clergymen have been accused of these crimes.
As Die Zeit specifies in its own report: “62% of the victims are male, and 35% are female. In some partial investigations, the percentage of male victims even went up to 80%.”
More than half of the victims were, at the most, 13 years old, reports Walter Mayr for Der Spiegel. He also points out, quoting from an executive summary of that official report that is to be presented by Cardinal Marx on September 25 that in many cases the archives and files concerning the accused clergymen have been “destroyed or manipulated.”
As Mayr also quotes from the report, it is not to be assumed “that the sexual abuse of minors by clergymen of the Catholic Church is a topic that belongs to the past and that has been resolved.” The abuse cases have continued to happen up until the end of the time period under investigation, that is the year 2014.
“In a striking amount of cases,” continues Mayr, “the accused clergymen were moved to another location, without the new parish being given ‘the pertinent information’ about the abuser.” “Only a third of the abusers faced a canonical trial, at which end the sanctions were minimal, if there were any.” As is stated, only 41 accused priests were laicized, 88 were excommunicated.
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