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Minister accuses church of blocking child sex abuse investigation

DDP/DPA/The Local · 23 Feb 2010, 08:46

Published: 23 Feb 2010 08:46 GMT+01:00

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The member of the Free Democrats told broadcaster ARD that she did not have the impression that church leaders were working constructively with law enforcement. Meanwhile the abuse scandal uncovered at Berlin’s prestigious Canisius school last month continues to grow, with around 50 former students claiming they were sexually abused.

Lawyers for victims have said more than 120 people across the country have since come forward with allegations of abuse by up to 12 different priests and teachers at other Catholic institutions too.

“It is unfortunately so far not obvious that they have shown an active interest in real, wholehearted, and complete clarification,” she said.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also criticised the Catholic Church’s tendency to give internal investigations priority over state legal proceedings.

“Child abuse is an official criminal offence,” she told ARD. “So others can’t decide whether this crime will be looked into or not.”

The minister said the clergy's attitudes toward the subject were outdated and suggested that state prosecutors be immediately activated in the growing number of cases.

But Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also said she feared many of these may have passed their statute of limitation after decades of silence.

“The worst part is that what happens to young people can destroy their entire lives,” she said.

Story continues below…

The minister’s comments came one day after Robert Zollitsch, the head of the German Bishop’s Conference (DBK), made a formal apology to the victims of the widespread child abuse at Catholic schools and said there would be consequences.

The group meets this week and will discuss their “guidelines for dealing with sexual abuse of children by clergy” and “discuss possible changes,” Zollitsch said.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:08 February 23, 2010 by dbert4
As such, Catholic priests and nuns are deviants from all biological and societal norms. Why is it a surprise to anyone when they, being already outside the "box" take it to the next level of child abuse? The main interest of the Catholic Church is its own self-interest both financially and doctrinally. What, do you expect them to admit their problems and ban celibacy because it attracts sexual deviants? No wait they¦#39;re all sexual deviants!
19:14 February 25, 2010 by fair1day
The pope has ignored the problem. He should prosecute all sex crimes. Stop with the temporary fixes.

If someone takes a vow of chastity, stay away from sin and keep your vow. Don't cover it up. You will be known.
23:36 February 28, 2010 by dubtub
The Justice Minister is correct. Here in Ireland, the church authorities (including named bishops) obstructed, lied, protected, frustrated, delayed and generally refused to cooperate with investigations into child abuse. It has caused immeasurable damage and hurt to the many victims who have been waiting years for justice to be done. In addition, the Catholic church has lost all moral authority in Ireland and most young people are turning their backs on priests and bishops.

Do not allow this obstruction of justice to take place in Germany!!! In the name of humanity and justice, not forgetting the pain of the victims, bring in these perverts and bishops and subject them to the same investigation any criminal suspect would go through. If you wait for the church to respond in its own time it will be far too late.
19:58 March 2, 2010 by SMP TURLISH

Published February 19, 2010 in the National Catholic Reporter (United States)

The entire article may be found at:


By Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish

Pope Benedict's repetition over and over again that the sexual abuse of a child is "a heinous crime" and "a grave sin which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image," in country after country may, to use Bishop Diarmuid Martin's words, "even be empty."

I agree with Michael O'Brien of Right to Peace in Ireland, who said, "It's unbelievable what we heard today from the pope, this is the man who is in charge of the Catholic church worldwide and he hadn't even the gumption to say he was sorry for what happened to us.

"All he's done now is to add salt to the wounds, and this is very hurtful," he added. "We were expecting something and we got nothing."

[Maureen Paul Turlish, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, is a victims' advocate and writes from New Castle, Delaware in the United States.]

She may be reached at:

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