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Friday, February 26, 2010

Germany Urges Catholic Church to Come Clean on Child Abuse

Deutsche Welle reported on February 21:
"German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger leveled criticism at the Bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa, who she said was 'hiding behind polemic excuses instead of contributing to clearing up' the matter. The controversial bishop had previously told a local newspaper that the media and the 'so-called sexual revolution' were partly to blame for the problem of child abuse in society.

"The minister's comments come to a backdrop of a widening scandal involving allegations of sexual molestation at Catholic schools throughout Germany dating back to the 1960s...
"Hamburg Archbishop Werner Thissen said the scandal was the result of 'structural problems' in the church... An association of Catholic lay people... has also called on bishops to come clean, and admit that cases that have come to light are not isolated."

Der Spiegel Online added on February 24:
"The Catholic Church in Germany is under pressure as more and more cases of sexual abuse come to light. Now the government is demanding that the Church take rigorous action to investigate the incidents. But Benedict XVI remained silent.

"New allegations of abuse by members of the Catholic Church are emerging every day... Despite the apparent urgency of the situation, Germany's highest-ranking Catholic... had been unavailable for comment for weeks during the scandal.

"In reacting to what is probably the biggest scandal within their ranks in decades, German bishops have seemed helpless and dazed, sometimes concerned about the victims, but often stubborn, out of touch with reality or ignorant -- and generally confused.

"Even the German government is unequivocally calling upon Church leaders to take action -- an extremely unusual approach in the context of the relationship between Church and state... The prevalent view within the clergy, however, is still that sexual assaults are isolated cases, the regrettable transgressions of brothers gone astray... At the same time, the many new suspected cases indicate that abuse of children and adolescents was apparently widespread throughout the Catholic world.

"Given their experiences, however, many victims have little confidence in an investigation conducted by precisely the institution that concealed the abuse, sometimes for years or even decades."

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the Catholic Church will do to get itself out of this mess. Please watch our new StandingWatch program on this important issue, titled, "Why Catholic Sex Abuse?"

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