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Catholic groups chastise pope's silence on sex abuse scandal

AFP/DDP/The Local · 15 Mar 2010, 13:28

Published: 15 Mar 2010 13:28 GMT+01:00

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The scandal "affects people, whether they are religious or not," said Dirk Tänzler, head of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ), in the Berliner Zeitung daily. "The Holy Father should make a statement about this."

He added that the German Catholic Church, which has been hit by allegations of child sex abuse dating back decades on an almost daily basis in recent weeks, was in the midst of one of its "biggest identity crises since 1945."

Christian Weisner from the German chapter of reform movement We Are Church said meanwhile that the pope "has not yet realised the full extent of the unease" caused by the scandal.

The recent statement from the Vatican alleging a campaign to target the pope "is the worst possible communication strategy thinkable," Weisner told the Munich regional daily TZ.

"Many Catholics who are faithful to the Church regret the fact that Benedict XVI has failed to express a single word of sympathy," Weisner added.

The Catholic Church has been engulfed in a scandal since January when a Jesuit-run school in Berlin admitted systematic sexual abuse of pupils by two priests in the 1970s and 1980s.

Since then, there have been allegations at almost two-thirds of the country's 27 dioceses as more victims come forward.

With the Catholic Church also hit by similar scandals in other countries, Benedict has spoken out several times since the start of his papacy in 2005 on the issue.

In February, he described child abuse as a "heinous crime" and a "grave sin." But he has yet to comment directly on the scandal rocking his home country, critics say.

One of the implicated Catholic institutions is a boarding school attached to Regensburg cathedral's choir, called the Domspatzen, or “Cathedral Sparrows.” The pope's elder brother, Georg Ratzinger, who ran the choir for 30 years, has denied all knowledge of sexual abuse there.

On Friday the dioceses of Munich and Freising said that the pope, when he was archbishop there, had approved giving a priest suspected of sexual abuse Church housing in the diocese for "therapy" in 1980.

Two years later, by which time the pope had been transferred to the Vatican, the priest was given pastoral duties in the town of Grafing. He committed sexual abuse and was given a suspended jail sentence in 1986.

On Friday the man who was vicar-general at the time assumed "all responsibility" for the "bad mistake." The priest in question is reportedly still employed by the Church in Bad Tölz, where there was an uproar among his church’s congregation during Sunday's mass when a man stood to demand the church stop trying to distract from the issue, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi went on the offensive on Saturday.

"It is clearly evident that in the past few days there are some who have sought - with a dogged focus on Regensburg and Munich - elements to personally implicate the Holy Father in questions of abuse," he said.

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"It is clear that these efforts have failed," he said on Radio Vatican.

"The Church's credibility has been badly shaken," said Wolfgang Thierse, deputy speaker of the German parliament and a board member of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK).

"The Church should be more honest and more severe with itself, and that goes for the pope too," he said on public television channel ZDF.

Senior Church figures in Germany meanwhile called for a review of priestly celibacy, a tradition Benedict defended on Friday as a "sign of full devotion" and of an "entire commitment to the Lord."

The Church "should reflect on whether there are ... conditions that favour abuse," the ZdK head Alois Glück told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, citing loosening celibacy regulations as "one way” to achieve this.

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

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Your comments about this article

14:23 March 15, 2010 by dbert4
Corrupt, corrupt, corrupt! Shut it all down, distribute the moneies to their victims.
10:34 March 16, 2010 by rosenthalenglish
dbert4-We had better shut down the Government as well then.The "Allgäuer Zeitung" front page headline of 16th March 2010 is-EVERY YEAR OVER 10,000 CHILDREN SEXUALLY ABUSED IN GERMANY" These figures dwarf the awfull happenings within the Catholic Church.
18:46 March 18, 2010 by Thames

Great idea shut down the largest charity in the world.

That will really show them.
22:53 March 18, 2010 by Pas
Yes, shutting them down would show them. What good do they really do? 'The largest charity'? Not true , the largest fraudulent organisation in the world.
04:04 March 19, 2010 by Thames

Catholic Charities and Catholic Releif Services.

Hundreeds of hospitals and collleges throughout the world.

They helped millions of poor all over the world.

When Rome colapsed and government was essentially nonexistant the Church established Hospitals and Universitys all over Europe and in Asia

Try to make a rational argument not one based on opinion or emotion.

Shutting down the Catholic Hospitals alone would severley damage the American Healthcare system. Nearly all the schools open to the public in Hati are Catholic.

That would be a great way to help children deprive them of food, medical care and schooling.
07:00 March 19, 2010 by Pas
The best way to improve the American healthcare system would be to shut down the republican party as well.

Cathlolic schools , indeed schools of any religious denomination, should all be replaced by none denomination schools. Single religion schools breed intollerance.

The Best way of helping children is to do it in a none denominational way. There are plenty of charities not wanting to collect a soul when they do their deed. Perhaps there is hope, the 'church' should stop trying to sell God and just become a charity instead , then it could really do some good.

There is good and bad in all people. Sadly defending the catholic church at the moment is like defending the Nazi party because they provided a strong upbringing for children. An organisation that claims to be the moral compass for humanity should be beyond moral critisism.
21:29 March 20, 2010 by Deutschguy
Auction church art and relics to make sufficient compensation to these victims. They each deserve at least $500,000 apiece and paid medical/psych bills for life.

Vatican lawyers protect the Vatican treasury from claims by constructing byzantine legal frameworks sealing off the Church's various entities as independent units. Rip all that out and open up the bank. Their tactics are as egregious as multi-national banks and corporations.

The Pope needs to own up to all the twisted sickness and violations of trust his churches and organizations have within them. Sounds to me like the Vatican personnel and church hierarchy are just self-important career climbers who care little about damaging children, refuse responsibility for committing it, and then cover it up.
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