Report Reveals Widespread Sex Abuse of ‘Mostly Male Minors’ in German Catholic Church

MUNICH, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 02: Catholic clergymen arrive for the holy mass during the inauguration of Reinhard Marx, newly appointed Archbishop of Munich-Freising at Munich Cathedral on February 2, 2008 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
Johannes Simon/Getty Images

A leaked sexual abuse commission report documents more than 3,500 cases of “mostly male minors” who were victims of clerical sex abuse in Germany between 1946 and 2014.

The commission, which was funded by the German Bishops’ Conference, stated that “3,677 mostly male minors” had been victims of sexual abuse by 1,670 members of the clergy. The report also found systemic mishandling of allegations of sexual abuse by the German Catholic hierarchy.

Numerous abusing priests were transferred to other parishes and just one-third of them were ever investigated by the Church, the report states. About four percent of active clergy have been accused of sexual abuse.

Of those investigated, 41 priests were laicized and 88 were excommunicated.

The 350-page report, which German Cardinal Reinhard Marx had intended to make public on September 25 during the bishops’ autumn plenary assembly in Fulda, was leaked Wednesday by two prominent German media outlets: Der Spiegel and Die Zeit. It presents the results of an investigation spanning all 27 German dioceses.

The damning report echoes the recent findings of a Pennsylvania grand jury, which examined clerical sex abuse in six dioceses over 70 years, detailing credible allegations of abuse from some 300 priests, deacons, and seminarians.

An earlier comprehensive investigation into clergy sex abuse resulted in the 2004 John Jay report, which found that over 80 percent of abuse was committed against male victims, which has been used to underscore the predominantly homosexual nature of the clerical abuse crisis.

In its 2011 follow-up report, the John Jay College Research Team found that same-sex sexual behavior in the seminary “was significantly related to the increased likelihood of a male child victim.”

The study was carried out by a team of investigators from three German universities—Mannheim, Heidelberg, and Gießen—under the auspices of the German Bishops’ Conference.

According to Die Zeit, 62 percent of the victims were male and 35 percent were female, though in some “partial investigations” the percentage of male victims went up to 80 percent.

More than 50 percent of the victims were reportedly 13 years old or younger.

In the course of their investigation, the researchers reportedly found “explicit information” from two dioceses “that files or parts of files pertaining to sexual abuse of minors had been destroyed at an earlier time.”

The research team also stated that they “did not have access to the original files of the Catholic Church” but that all “archives and files of the dioceses had been investigated only by diocesan personnel or by law firms hired by the dioceses.”

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