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Church to appoint child sex abuse watchdog

AFP · 12 Mar 2010, 15:00

Published: 12 Mar 2010 12:29 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Mar 2010 15:00 GMT+01:00

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"I want to repeat here in Rome the apology that I made two weeks ago," Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg told a news conference in the Vatican after meeting Pope Benedict XVI.

Zollitsch said the pope had praised "the steps taken by the German Bishops Conference (including) the naming of a bishop as a special counsel" who would act as a watchdog on the issue of the sexual abuse of children.

Paedophile priest scandals have swept Germany since late January, one coming close to the pontiff's brother Georg Ratzinger, a former choirmaster.

On February 22, Zollitsch said he was "deeply shocked" by the scandals and asked for victims' forgiveness.

"Sexual abuse of minors is always a heinous crime. I want to associate myself with this statement from Pope Benedict and apologise to all those who were a victim of such crimes," he said then.

The tidal wave of scandals involving priests and teachers has engulfed 19 of Germany's 27 dioceses and are among several to have rocked the Catholic Church lately, notably in Ireland last year, and now Austria and The Netherlands as well.

Germany's shocking revelations began in late January when an elite Jesuit school in Berlin admitted it had discovered systematic sexual abuse of pupils by two priests in the 1970s and 1980s.

Among other boarding schools implicated is one attached to the Domspatzen ("Cathedral Sparrows"), Regensburg cathedral's thousand-year-old choir which was run for 30 years by the pope's older brother.

On Tuesday Ratzinger, 86, said that the alleged sexual abuse in the 1950s and 1960s - before his time - was "never discussed."

German Education Minister Annette Schavan has said there should be "zero tolerance" of the sexual abuse of children.

But most of the priests who were allegedly involved are not expected to face criminal charges because the crimes are outside the statute of limitations, though there have been growing calls for a change in the law and for the Church to pay compensation.

The Church has promised to shed light on all allegations, even those that are decades old.

Benedict has spoken out several times since the start of his papacy in 2005 to condemn priestly paedophilia, and he has met with abuse victims in the United States and Australia.

In the United States the pope said those found guilty of paedophilia would be removed from the priesthood and the Church.

In February when he met with top officials of the Irish Catholic Church, where the scandal was compounded by evidence that the hierarchy covered up for priests, the pope called child abuse a "heinous crime" and a "grave sin."

In 2001, when Benedict was head of the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog, he ordered that paedophilia cases be reported to the Holy See, suspecting that many national hierarchies preferred to look the other way.

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However earlier this week the pope's spokesman, Federico Lombardi, insisted the German, Austrian and Dutch churches had acted swiftly and "decisively" to address the scandals and stressed that sexual abuse went far beyond church walls.

The proliferation of scandals in Europe has rekindled debate about the requirement of celibacy for Roman Catholic priests.

The pope on Friday reaffirmed the "sacred" nature of priestly celibacy, calling it a "sign of... entire commitment to the Lord and to the 'Lord's business,' an expression of giving oneself to God and to others."

Austrian Archbishop of Salzburg Alois Kothgasser said Friday: "Times have changed and society has changed" as he questioned "whether celibacy is an appropriate way of life for priests."

In a television interview, Kothgasser said he also regretted that the Church had made mistakes in investigating cases of sexual abuse. "We need new effort for more honesty and truthfulness, but there still isn't the necessary openness there."

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Your comments about this article

14:01 March 12, 2010 by romber58
The statue on the table behind them says it all...lollol
16:14 March 12, 2010 by dbert4
Wow, what a consession!

The pope on Friday reaffirmed the "sacred" nature of priestly celibacy, calling it a "sign of... entire commitment to the Lord and to the 'Lord's business,' an expression of giving oneself to God and to others."

16:14 March 12, 2010 by boykool
That's really sad that it must come to this!!

You really can't trust anyone these days. I wonder who will be watching the "watchdog"!!!

But it's time priests should be allow to have a girlfriend and get married! Lack of intimacy is another reason they prance on these helpless kids.
16:55 March 12, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
Those who live in Germany should be well aware that this has not just happened within the Catholic Church and school system!However the Media keep calling it a "Catholic" problem and blaming celebacy.This is not so.Paedaphilia happens in many families and many married men and women have taken part in it.Look at the number of teachers in ordinary scholls worldwide who have had sex with their pupils.Just yesterday it was reported that a MARRIED woman teacher had turned herself into the police for having sex 5 times with a 12 year old boy.Now shall we say that marriage and having girlfriends should be banned because it causes paedophilia?The teacher is one of many and she had three children of her own.

Lets have the governments of the world stop pretending this only has happened in the Catholic Church.Let Governments tell us the EXACT PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION THAT IS INTO PAEDOPHILIA.The Media are well aware of other cases but concentrate on Catholic Church cases because 1)There is an underlying distrust of the Catholic Church in many countries which has its origin in the Reformation.2)Secular humanists constantly attack the heart of Christianity which is the Catholic Church 3)Media journalists tend to lead liberal lives and promote sexual liberation and anything that says that some of what they do is a sin,must be attacked.Similaly when that same Church has been seen to cover up then it must be dailly attacked and other cases DELIBERATELY ignored to push the lefty secular point that the Catholic Church is evil.Reading the comments on this story over the weeks in the local show that the baying anti-catholics are alive and well and read The Local!
17:28 March 12, 2010 by romber58
@ rosenthalenglish

It is high time that people like you and your church who dare to preach high morals to the rest of us are exposed for being the hypocrites that you are....
17:36 March 12, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
romber 58 I was not preaching to you just saying the facts that paedophilia is rife in ordinary society.It is a great sin and we in the Catholic Church should be ashamed of what has happened to the victims.However what are we going to do about the thousands of other victims who are suffering and not at the hamds of Catholics?Do we just bury our heads and pretend its only the Catholic Church that has sinners in it?How can you judge each individual and unique person who is a Catholic and claim they are all hipocrites?romber 58 you will have to do better than that twaddle or you show that you actually support paedophilia as long as it's not done by a Catholic Priest or teacher-Shame on you if I have hit the truth.Now what do we do with those abused outside of the Catholic Church-ANSWER PLEASE?
18:52 March 12, 2010 by berlinski
boykool "But it's time priests should be allow to have a girlfriend and get married! Lack of intimacy is another reason they prance on these helpless kids."

They do have girlfriends. They are called alter boys!
19:05 March 12, 2010 by michael4096

You are wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong - in that order.

1) Distrust in the catholic church did not originate in the reformation. Exactly the opposite, centuries of distrust or worse was responsible for the reformation. It's a shame the new world order proved no better.

2) Humanists attack religions (not just christianity) because of the over simplistic but sort-of-understandable creation of fear as the answer to all problems. They attack the churches because churches capitalize on the fear generated by religion and profit handsomely - indeed, some churches are beginning to out-catholic the catholics

3) The life of media journalists, as long as they don't break laws, is entirely their own and none of my - or your - business. I have seen few examples of the media attacking catholics for anything practiced by adults in their own homes.

And, as for The Local readers. I think the super-simplistic, stone-em-to-death attitude of many on this forum make it a prime recruitment opportunity for whatever religion takes the challenge.
19:09 March 12, 2010 by dubtub
This "it happens elsewhere" approach is yet another dodge by the Catholic Church to divert attention and diffuse outrage. We in Ireland are very familiar with the Catholic Churches' endless schemes of frustrating the course of natural justice. Victims in Ireland have lived through many shameful years of pain, hurt and frustration as the Church authorities employ every imaginable obstruction to legitimate investigation. I would urge all Germans of any faith or no faith not to let this happen.

I am sure there is a law in Germany along the lines of "obstructing the course of justice". Bring this into immediate effect. If priests, canons, monsigniors, bishops or whoever think they can get away with delay, delay, delay, ignore, ignore, ignore they will do it. The only answer is a good, professional, investigaitve team of police who should start bringing suspects into police custody. Writing to them for a reply is a total waste.
21:37 March 12, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
I am not against bringing people to justice.I also agree that it was wrong that the victims had know support and that it was brushed to the side.But all of your want to continue letting all those others suffer because they were not abused by someone in the Catholic Church.Mistakes have been made.They should be rectified quickly and it should never be able to happen again.But we must protect ALL children not juts those who have been abused by members of the Catholic Faith.It seems from all your answers that not one of you is interested in tackiling that or even finding out just what percentage of the general population are paedophiles.You also accuse all members of the Catholic Church and make stupid jokes about Altar Boys being girls for priests.Lets have a serious conversation about this and not your silly lynch mob mentality.Those who have suffered at anyones hands deserves that we treat this seriously.
22:00 March 12, 2010 by CraigS
Bravo dubtub!

I am surprised that this is just becoming a story in Germany. The Amercian Catholic churches have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to victims here and their are several Bishops and Cardinals who are being looked at for prosecution for hiding and moving these maggot priests around without informing law enforcement or the new communities that they were sent to. There is a special place in hell for these men, but they will spend a good amount of time in a prison with a cell mate named Bubba first. That is not justice, it is retribution. Their justice will come later.
22:01 March 12, 2010 by dbert4
I had the misfortune of attending Catholic schools, kindergarten through 9th grade in the US. While I didn't suffer any abuse of a sexual nature, I can assure you that those schools which were in several US States excelled at physical and mental abuse.

My contemporaries who were fortunate enough to attend public schools didn't deal with anything of the sort. While I don¦#39;t dwell on those years, I¦#39;m still taken by surprise at the waves of emotion that I experience if I think back to my mistreatment and humiliation the hands of sadistic nuns.
22:20 March 12, 2010 by CraigS
To rosenthalenglish

I agree that ALL of these child abusers need to be dealt with. If you call dealing with them in the heaviest manner has having a "lynch mob" mentality, then I would guess that you have never dealt with one of these maggots and their victims. I have helped put 5 of these maggots in prison for very long terms. Prison inmates have their own justice system, and anyone who harms a child is right on top of the "SCUM BAG" list and are dealt with appropriately for a VERY LONG TIME!
23:34 March 12, 2010 by romber58

Well i think it is obvious by now what the civilized world thinks of your desperate attempts to justify such a crowd of child friendly men who are after all only looking for acceptance in a community of understanding peers...
23:36 March 12, 2010 by hanskarl
I read one German news magazine calling this problem "systematic." I think the better term is "systemic." It plagues not only the RC Church but society in general. Regardless, the Roman Catholic church as other religious institutions claims to be the higher authority and the "spiritual leaders." They all must be held to a higher standard as and punished for their activities at more stringent levels than those provided for in society. It grieves one to see time and time again the lack of order and control and action within their ranks.

They transfer these ingrates to hide their shame. One need not imagine the social and societal implications if this were prevalent in the Lutheran church or any other church where its leaders are married. How is it society so easily passes off their actions? Whatever their present Vatican reasoning of stand this blanket rule of celibacy is impractical, immoral and certainly not Biblical.

It creates more problems among its parishioners than it solves within its hallowed and holy halls and residences. One fleeting moment by one leads to a lifetime of shame, emotional pain, embarrassment, suicide, and in some cases abuse by those abused. Something is terribly wrong here.
00:55 March 13, 2010 by romber58
@ hanskarl

could it be that the brainwashing of children who may now have grown up to be in a position of power has something to do with it ?.

In any case I have the feeling that the tide is turning....
06:45 March 13, 2010 by wenddiver
Hope fully, the Pope's Watch dog will have the power of arrest and a Viking Axe for dealing with these evil basturds immediatly.
09:48 March 13, 2010 by michael4096

I've haven't seen anything scientific, but anecdotal evidence suggests that those abused frequently grow up to become abusers themselves. Is a vicious circle.
09:50 March 13, 2010 by Perikita
I know that it is nearly impossible to stop adults from abuse our kids.

I think this has been already for so many generations, in so many

different spheres, educational, religious, even in sports there have

been cases too.

The only solution I have always seen is to give to our children lots of love

and I mean "LOVE" (not big and expensive toys) and lots of self esteem.

No one, say teachers, trainers, priest whoever, and I used to say my children

"not even your father", (to put an stress in no one) has the right to ask you to do something that you don't like or makes you feel embarrassed.

We as parents are intelligent enough to know how to tell this to our kids

even when they are 6 y.o.
10:09 March 13, 2010 by mixxim
Religion was a tool used by the state to keep control. You are poor now but in heaven everything will be wonderful!!! The Church meanwhile took its tithe (plus more) Priests try to tell us the same now. Did they say the abuse was also God's will??? Time to be realistic - why do we believe in a God who let his son be killed in order to save sinners? If we did this with our children we would rightly have to answer to the law. Some Moslems believe Allah wants them to kill us. Jews believe God gave them Israel. Perhaps one day people will see where the real problem lies.
13:32 March 13, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
I am sure that in the past disciplin in schools was much harsher than it is now.That includes public schools.Any sexual abuse of children is wrong.Each individual is responsible and answerable to God for his own actions.I admit it is not nice to hear how so many children have suffered at the hands of Catholic Priests.EVEN 1 IS 1 TO MANY!

However is not everyone entitled to be judged fairly?How many priests have been accused injustly of child sexual abuse?What happened to the rule "A man is innocent until proved guilty"?Those Priests which have been found guilty and had their cases covered up is really a scandal.If they were just moved to another Parish,Yes,that too is scandalous and these cases should have been dealt with in a correct way.If a Bishop had found out the information outside of the confessional he should have reported it further.Mistakes have been made within the Church on how we dealt with these Priests.But the actuall figures worldwide on Priests affected by ALL these scandals in Every Country when broken down show sixty percent of the cases chiefly involved sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex, another thirty percent involved heterosexual relations, and the remaining ten percent were cases of paedophilia in the true sense of the term; that is, based on sexual attraction towards prepubescent children. The cases of priests accused of paedophilia in the true sense have been about three hundred in nine years.This is three thousand cases of diocesan and religious priests, which refer to crimes committed over the last fifty years.The Catholic Church has over 400,000 Diocesan and Religious Priests in the world today.Just to put into perspective how many Priests dont commit these dreadfull sins.We should be trying to stop paedophilia EVERYWHERE including within the Catholic Church and not just exclusivly within the Catholic Church as many of you seem to imply.He who is without sin springs to mind,But one wanders if anyone really cares about that nowdays!
22:55 March 13, 2010 by homeboy
look at the picture, fat old men in dresses.
13:02 March 14, 2010 by mixxim
When I was a child I was molested by the tooth fairy's helpers!
18:49 March 14, 2010 by Talonx
This just made me think of:

'Wolves to appoint chicken abuse watchdog'.
11:55 March 15, 2010 by wenddiver
Give these men wives and let them be abused for a change. I think the Lutheran Church's policy is best; A Pastor in charge of a Church and a Wife in charge of him.

The Church should turn Pedaphiles over to the police immediatly for prosecution.
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