A report on sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church in Germany says that between 1946 and 2014, 3,677 people were abused, according to two leading German media outlets.
Die Zeit and Spiegel Online said they obtained the report-which was researched by three universities and commissioned by the German Bishops Conference-concluding that more than half of the victims were 13 or younger with most of the victims being boys. Both Spiegel Online and Die Zeit reported that every sixth case involved rape with at least 1,670 clergy involved. Die Zeit wrote that 969 abuse victims were altar boys.
According to research by experts from the Universities of Heidelberg, Mannheim and Giessen, the actual number of victims is likely much higher than reported.
In a written response a few hours later, the German Bishops Conference said it regretted the report being leaked, but that the study confirmed “the extent of the sexual abuse” that took place.
“It is depressing and shameful for us,” Bishop Stephan Ackermann said. Although Ackermann did not go into further detail regarding the findings of the report, he did say that the Catholic group would present the study as initially planned on September 25th together with the authors.
Die Zeit wrote that researchers weren’t allowed to look at any of the original church flies but had to provide questionnaires to the dioceses, which then provided the information.
The researchers concluded that some of the files were destroyed, or at the very least manipulated, many cases were never brought to justice, and that sometimes abuse suspects-primarily priests-were moved to other dioceses without the congregation ever having been informed of their past.
This is not a new issue with the Catholic Church. In 2010, the German church dealt with a sex abuse scandal launched by the head of a Jesuit school in Berlin who came forward and made his claims public about decades-long sexual abuse of high school students by clergy. This sparked a wave of victims across the country to follow suit and go public with the sexual abuse they too had endured.
Just last month, an investigation in Pennsylvania found rampant sexual abuse of over 1,000 children by around 300 Catholic “predator priests.”
Read more on the grand jury report that included 250,000 pages of documents where more than 300 “predator priests” have been accused of the sexual abuse of over 1,000 child victims over 70 years time here:
Earlier this week, the Vatican said it is preparing the “necessary clarifications” about accusations that top Vatican officials—including Pope Francis—covered up the sexual misconduct of an American ex-cardinal, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Vatican ambassador to Washington, has called for the resignation of the pontiff.
Read more on the church’s “Summer of Shame”:
The Vatican said on Wednesday it would be summoning the presidents of each bishops’ conference from around the world for a summit in February where they will discuss preventing clergy sex and protecting children.
A non-profit that tracks allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, BishopAccountability, said that the church has paid out upwards of $4 billion in lawsuits dealing with allegations of sexual abuse by clerics since the 1980s.
The website for BishopAccountability has a detailed list naming some of the largest settlements to date along with other case details.
The largest payout on record was $660 million issued in Los Angeles back in 2007, with 221 priests and other church leaders accused of victimizing and abusing over 508 people, CNN reported.
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