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Priests no more likely to commit sex abuse than other men, researcher says

The Local · 13 Jul 2011, 14:14

Published: 13 Jul 2011 14:14 GMT+02:00

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In comments to be published Thursday, respected criminologist Christian Pfeiffer told weekly Die Zeit that there were “even indications that priests are under-represented in their age group compared with other men.”

Pfeiffer, a former justice minister for the state of Lower Saxony and director of the state’s criminal research institute, has been commissioned by the Church to investigate the prevalence of abuse among German priests.

Pfeiffer declined to say whether the Church’s insistence on celibacy and its ban on marriage for priests made them more – or perhaps even less – likely to become abusers. But he did say that US research suggested that the broader community trend towards sexual liberalisation had helped combat the tendency towards sexual abuse in the Church.

“Priests who sought sexual contact (in the US) in violation of celibacy have increasingly easily found adult partners,” he said. “This has apparently contributed to lessening the risk to children and youths that priests assault them.”

In January last year, it emerged that priests at the elite Canisius College in Berlin committed dozens of assaults on pupils in the 1970s and 1980s. The months that followed, more than 200 cases of sexual and physical abuse within the church came to light.

For their research, Pfeiffer and his institute in Hannover have been given access to the personnel files of all 27 of the Church’s diocese going back 10 years, as well as the files for nine representative diocese going back to 1945.

As well as Pfeiffer’s research, a separate project is being led by top forensic psychiatrist Norbert Leygraf from the University of Duisburg-Essen. The studies began in April but were only formally announced by the Church on Wednesday by Bishop Stephan Ackermann, the Church’s representative on all matters relating to child sex abuse cases.

Story continues below…

In June, bishops attending the German Bishops' Conference adopted a resolution allowing the researchers access to the Church's files, magazine Der Spiegel has reported – a reversal of the long-standing guardedness the Church has employed.

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:46 July 13, 2011 by lunchbreak
Maybe, but priests are more likely to receive the protection of the Church which has a long history of shielding its clergy from the police.
16:52 July 13, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Commisioned by the Church? And they returned with an answer favorable to the Church? What a surprise!
17:28 July 13, 2011 by harcourt
The point is, priests are supposed to be in positions of trust and teaching that is why their misdeeds are so repulsive !!
18:53 July 13, 2011 by truelytrue
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
05:46 July 14, 2011 by german-guardian
Just because there are some bad priests, it does not make all priests bad. This is steriotyping.
08:26 July 14, 2011 by harcourt
I knew we wouldn't have to wait too long before a comment was posted defending the church. Guess who it was !!
12:44 July 14, 2011 by Englishted

Oh come on that is just stereotyping or should that be steriotyping.
22:06 July 14, 2011 by whpmgr
I think the major problem with priests are a few:

1. They have more unrestricted access and ready access to the types of people they would be preying on

2. they are often citizens of the vatican and are protected -often, by that citizenship, and thus may be able to escape justice (Look at BErnard Law who -I hear, could be in line for the papacy.

3. WHile abuse is not necessarily more in priests than in society in general, teh church can screen out the abusers, but society cannot screen out, so, the church shold have a lesser rate of incidence than the public would have.

4. If normal people applied, and were able to have normal sexual relationships with people of the opposite sex (homosexuality is against Christian doctrine and it would be wrong to bend the rules/standards in favor of being politically correct and is a slap in teh face of God and the bible) you would have less occurances. You would have the regular cheating, and such, but with proper screening, there should-once again, be less.

I am not judging and saying that homosexuality is wrong, I am saying that it goes against the doctrine of the church and therefore should not be allowed.

How many nuns have been accused of lesbian assaults or sexual abuse? I bet it is far less than the other way around with Priests.
09:23 July 15, 2011 by heyheyhey
@whpmgr..........you are an authority on catholic priests too? Wow, priets, the US military economic impact in Germany, macroeconomics.........and the bible??????

You are definitely a right wing homophob, aren't you? i don't think God cares much about sexual orientation. And, BTW, who eversaid that the bible has much to do with God anyway????
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