Catholic priests abused thousands in Germany

According to the study 1,670 clergymen in Germany committed some form of sexual attack against 3,677 minors

According to the study 1,670 clergymen in Germany committed some form of sexual attack against 3,677 minors

Three German universities were involved in the research, which implicates 1,670 priests in sexual abuse spanning from 1946 to 2014.

A Church spokesman said it was "dismayed and ashamed" by the findings.

Over the last decade, several German Catholic institutions have revealed cases of child sexual abuse, including an elite Jesuit school in Berlin which admitted to systematic sexual abuse of pupils by two priests in the 1970s and 1980s.

The report says that more than half of the victims were aged 13 or younger and most were boys.

Predatory clerics were often moved to new communities, where no warning was issued about their actions.

The study was compiled by three German universities, using 38,000 documents from 27 German dioceses.

Authors of the study also warned that the true scale of the abuse may be greater as some documents were "destroyed or manipulated".

Habits of obedience towards authority in the Roman Catholic church have had appalling consequences.

"We know the extent of the sexual abuse that has been demonstrated by the study".

"For my shortcomings of the past and of the present I take full responsibility and wish that I could wipe away all the pain, confusion and disillusionment that people feel, and I wish that I could redo some decisions I have made in my three decades as a bishop and each time get it right", Wuerl said in the September 13 letter. Speaking after the meeting, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said the church leaders "prayed together for God's mercy and strength" and that they "look forward to actively continuing [their] discernment together identifying the most effective next steps".

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"I stress that the study is a measure that we owe not only to the Church but first and foremost, to those affected", the bishop added.

Bishop Ackermann said the report had been leaked to the press before the Church itself had seen it.

What is the Church doing about abuse claims?

The Vatican did not immediately respond to Spiegel's account of the report.

Francis will meet the presidents of the Catholic bishops conferences from around the world in the Vatican from February 21-24, according to a Vatican statement on Wednesday.

In a new letter posted to the Archdiocese of Washington's website, Cardinal Donald Wuerl says he intends to step aside to allow for new leadership following outcry since the release of the grand jury report on sexual abuse in six dioceses in Pennsylvania.

Australia concluded a wide ranging royal commission into child sex abuse within the Catholic Church in 2017.

It came after a grand jury report detailed seven decades of abuse in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Last month, a grand jury in the USA state of Pennsylvania released the findings of the largest-ever investigation of sex abuse into the Catholic Church in the United States, finding that 301 priests in the state had sexually abused minors over the past 70 years.

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