“It makes no sense, even if the first cases (of abuse) are in the Catholic Church, to focus on one group. This is something that has happened in many areas of society,” Merkel said in a speech to parliament.
“And first and foremost it is also something that is still happening to this day, in part in different forms but with the same consequences.”
She said no-one should attempt to over-simplify a difficult matters testing all of society.
The German Catholic Church has been thrown into crisis in recent weeks as hundreds of people have come forward alleging they were abused as minors by priests between the 1950s and 1980s.
Accusations of abuse have now been made in around two-thirds of Germany’s 27 dioceses in recent weeks including in Munich and Freising, where Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was archbishop from 1977 to 1982.
Church officials suspended the priest named as Peter H. on Monday amid revelations he was still working with children 25 years after he was convicted of sexual abuse.
Another priest who had the job of overseeing the convicted paedophile resigned in response to the latest information was made public.
Priest Peter H. had violated the conditions of his employment by continuing to have contact with children and youths and had therefore been suspended from his duties “with immediate effect,” said Bernhard Kellner, spokesman for the diocese of Munich and Freising on Monday.
Peter H. was accused of sexually abusing boys in the Diocese of Essen in 1980, including forcing an 11-year-old to perform oral sex. Pope Benedict XVI, who was then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger of Munich and Freising, approved Peter H.’s transfer to Munich for therapy.