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Catholic Church to allow access to internal files

The Local · 10 Jul 2011, 12:12

Published: 10 Jul 2011 12:12 GMT+02:00

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News magazine Der Spiegel said bishops have decided to allow the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony (KFN) to access files from all 27 dioceses dating back 10 years.

In nine of those bishoprics, researchers will be granted access to files from the year 1945 onward.

Following a wave of revelations involving sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and staff, the Church is looking to repair its image and win back credibility. The move marks a sudden reversal of longstanding Church policy, whereby investigations into abuse cases have been handled internally.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger had previously appealed to the Church to engage state prosecutors in the investigations, but those calls went unheeded.

Der Spiegel said Catholic bishops attending the German Bishops' Conference on June 20, adopted a resolution allowing KFN access to the Church's files. A team from the research institute would oversee Church staff in reviewing the documents for any indications of sexual abuse violations.

Researchers from KFN would then evaluate any files that had been flagged.

The Church also plans to ask abuse victims to fill out a questionnaire and will request interviews from victims and perpetrators.

Church bishops hope that information will shed light on the circumstances of the violations, how they were dealt with internally, and how the findings might help prevent future cases of abuse.

But the team could have their work cut out for them, as past investigations into abuse in Church-run institutions have indicated that some violations were brushed under the rug.

Story continues below…

Der Spiegel said attorney Marion Westphal reached a similar conclusion while investigating abuse cases in the Munich and Freising dioceses between 1945 and 2009.

"We're looking at the large-scale destruction of files here," she said.

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:10 July 10, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
well that's good... but I'll bet before the files are handed over, many of the, ahem, juicier records will have dissapeared, been "misplaced", or will otherwise be kept from investigators.

Does anybody really think the Catholic Church, after decades of almost invariably denying, covering up, intimidating and hushing up victims, and blaming God knows who for what went on behind closed doors will all of a sudden now just, pardon the pun, strip naked and let all the ugly details get out?
14:08 July 10, 2011 by lise_hamel
A person should not look for moral guidance from an organization that has paid $ billions in fines for sexually abusing little boys.
15:55 July 10, 2011 by FIUMAN
I call bullshit on the Roman Catholic Church coming clean on any thing. When oh when will they open their files for outside historians to examine their records of their activities in around the Holocaust? They produce only the documents they wan to produce and do not allow outside historians to examine these files. So, why does anyone think that their criminal behavior involving the covering up of sexual crimes by ordained church men and women will be any different? The Roman Catholic Church serves its own institutional structure and certainly not the greater secular societies. They should be investigated like any other organization. Search warrants should be obtained criminal investigators ought to search these records in accordance with the limits of the law and not the limits of the Pope.
17:22 July 10, 2011 by DOZ
I guess the shredding has be completed.
02:55 July 11, 2011 by consumerxy
These creeps have been abusing children for HUNDREDS of years. In the U.S. the church put out a paper that the promiscuous 60's and 70's were to blame. There is still a firestorm over that paper these clueless creeps put out. As a former catholic I see that the church does what they want to, with law enforcement in their pocket in alot of cases. The church has lost millions in the U.S. in lawsuits, and only after a subpoena was issued. They have had alot of time to hide their dirty secrets and this record turnover is a sad joke to the victims. So the church was disneyland for child abuse and the church protected and moved them around like a bad hide the monster game. These same people who hid these monsters have and will become saints. Pray for the victims because in Germany they will get no justice from the church.
15:52 July 11, 2011 by hOU
Man, that's a lot of kiddie porn to wade through ...
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