General story International Leaders & Institutions News

German bishops apologize for thousands of sex abuse cases

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising and president of the German bishops conference, attends the opening Mass of the bishops’ fall meeting in Hesse, September 25, 2018. Photo: Arne Dedert/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

BERLIN (AP) — A top German bishop has apologized for thousands of sexual abuse cases that took place inside the Catholic Church in Germany, according to a devastating report released Tuesday that concludes at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014.

“Sexual abuse is a crime,” Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is also the head of the German Bishops Conference, told reporters. “I’m ashamed for so many (of us) looking away, not wanting to recognize what happened and not helping the victims. That goes for me as well.”

The apology came on the same day that Pope Francis acknowledged that the sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church was driving people away. He said the church must change its ways if it wants to keep future generations.

The report on sex abuse inside the German Catholic Church found that more than half of the victims were 13 or younger and most were boys. Every sixth case involved rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved. Some 969 abuse victims were altar boys.

On average, the abuses happened multiple times over a period of at least 15 months.
The German Bishops Conference released its report Tuesday, but it was already leaked earlier this month and was heavily criticized for the lack of transparency and the church’s refusal to let the researchers access the original documents.

Instead of looking at the original church files, they sent questionnaires to the dioceses, which then provided the information.

The report was commissioned by the German Bishops Conference and researched by experts from the Universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim.

The researchers wrote that there was evidence that some files were manipulated or destroyed, and many cases were not brought to justice. Sometimes abuse suspects — primarily priests — were simply moved to other dioceses without the congregations being informed about their past.

“The figures are only the tip of the iceberg,” said Harald Dressing, a psychiatrist from Mannheim University who presented the report together with Marx and others in the central German city of Fulda during a convention of the German Bishops Conference.

“Generally, the risk of sexual abuse of children inside the Catholic Church continues to exist,” Dressing warned. He said celibacy, the clergy’s power and homosexuality inside the church were all issues that promote abuse.

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley said “the dioceses and religious orders must finally take on responsibility for decades of suppression and denial … the church must press criminal charges in every case.”

The Catholic Church has been struggling with sex abuse by its clergy for a long time.

In 2010, the German church was roiled by a sex abuse scandal triggered by the head of a Jesuit school in Berlin who went public about decades-long sexual abuse of high school students by clergy. Following that, a whole wave of victims who were sexually abused by clergy spoke out across Germany.

The church’s failures in confronting sex abuse scandals have also roared back to the headlines recently with revelations of abuses and cover-ups in the United States and Chile.

About the author

Kirsten Grieshaber

71 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Clearly, the Catholic Church operated as a corrupt organization in furtherance of criminal activity, worldwide. The “officers and directors” of this racket should face criminal charges, as should the individual priests.

    Original church documents must be subject to discovery for criminal and civil actions. The title of “church” or “reverend” should no longer fuction as a Mastercard with no limit to excuse behavior, including the ubiquitous cover-ups by the Princes of the Church, that would land anyone else in the criminal or civil dock.

  • Yes, the RCC has been SO forthcoming about this decades-long conspiracy to promote criminal conduct and obstruct justice in just about every country in which it has a substantial presence.

  • Same old story …

    -> “…there was evidence that some files were manipulated or destroyed, and many cases were not brought to justice. Sometimes abuse suspects — primarily priests — were simply moved to other dioceses without the congregations being informed about their past.”

    But they say they are ‘So Sorry” !! — Alas, there is even more form Germany…

    -> “The figures are only the tip of the iceberg,”

    Same as everywhere for the RCC and It never ends…

  • Apology but no transparency. Same song and same verse over and over and over and … Sooner or later the Holy Spirit might become a little concerned that She has entrusted her Church to duplicitous hypocrites. She may even begin to wonder if Her Holy Successors who make the same “apology but no transparency” mistake over and over and over again might be morons. On the other hand, She is probably warmed by the thought that they are protecting Her from scandal. It is as Jesus said, “Good intentions cover a multitude of sins, especially when the sins are committed by the successors to My Apostles.”

  • I think the RCC needs to take a broad approach to finally draw this issue to a conclusion:
    1) forcefully admit that there are systemic issues throughout the church,
    2) address the needs of the victims as much as possible without fiscally crippling existing parishes (the Vatican’s resources may need to be tapped),
    2.5) implement a policy that states that any (credible) accusations of criminal activity will be referred to local law enforcement,
    3) conduct a complete analysis and overhaul of the seminary recruiting and training process,
    4) conduct an honest assessment of diocese fundraising and its influences that directly oppose the teachings of the catechism,
    5) admonish cardinals/bishops that speak or teach in public – theology that opposes the catechism; remove them if necessary,
    6) not be afraid to defrock those who cause harm to the faithful or the church. Better to have a smaller number of holy priests then to have many heretics “teaching” the faith, and
    7) for the short-term, get out of the social justice business and focus all resources on teaching the next generation the catechism.

  • No, they weren’t outside the church; the two priests were caught in a parked car on a busy street…
    Nothing to see here… move along…

  • If there is nothing to see, why are you looking? Are you saying you are constantly ringing the alarm bells about nothing?

  • No, there is plenty to see; and the alarm bells should certainly be rung.
    Unfortunately, some on these pages as well as inside the church like what they see and feel the bells should be rung in celebration.

  • I’m unfamiliar with your reference to “two priests…caught in a parked car”. If two gay clerics were engaging in behavior contrary to church teaching, such an encounter would not have been sexual abuse. It would have been, instead, romantic/sexual relations between two consenting adults. No different than a straight cleric and adult woman “caught in a parked car” for a tryst.

  • Who is this “Harald Dressing” fellow? Aside from his status as a psychiatrist at Mannheim University, what is his background? Does he perchance belong to a German equivalent of NARTH in the USA (now relabeled “Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI)” since 2014, per Wikipedia)? Are German homosexuals, unlike American homosexuals, prone to engaging in illicit sex with minors?

    Count me suspect.

  • “Some on these pages as well as inside the church like what they see”

    Who on these pages likes the sexual exploitation of minors and vulnerable adults? Perhaps you need to examine your powers of observation for accuracy.

  • Your recommendations aside (not all of which I share), I suggest Rome and worldwide bishops jettison doctrinal references to Jesus as “victim”, the eucharistic table as “altar”, and the cleric as “priest”. All these terms, which are not the least ultimately historically supportable, reinforce the idea of the ordained minister as “mediator between God and Man”. This doctrine promotes the sociological phenomenon of “priests on pedestals”, a toxic practice that takes advantage of a subset of Catholics who believe “Father” can do no wrong, has all the answers, and stands between the people and God. This doctrine is the core of toxicity in the Church of Rome. Anything else proposed and/or undertaken by the hierarchs will only result in “putting lipstick on a pig”. BEWARE.

  • Again, you know nothing about Catholicism and are a tout for homosexuality.

    It’s like listening to a symposium on Jesse Jackson by six guys wearing white sheets and hoods.

  • You certainly enjoy the opportunity to jump up and down on the Catholic Church, so in that sense you like what you see.

  • Thousands upon thousand upon thousands of young victims of clergy sex abuse, and you want to stress the goddamned CATECHISM???!! You are every bit a part of this problem.

  • Yes, I do. It was only one of my points, but thanks for bringing up this point for additional discussion.
    Had the church hierarchy and those that were entrusted with the souls of the faithful actually believed and adhered to the catechism; the church wouldn’t find itself in this position. But instead, they succumbed to their fleshly desires, ignored or condoned the heinous acts; and then covered it up when caught.
    I feel you ignored my other points (which addressed the main issue) just to be pissy.
    I’ve said before, the church can take a measured approach like I’ve outlined above to address the issue and move forward; or it could let Opus Dei and the Swiss Guards loose and hunt down every unholy priest. I don’t care; I just want the church cleaned up.
    You on the other hand, want to ignore the cause of the problem, blame clericalism; and destroy the church.

  • Yes, I remember that post by “Ben in Oakland”.

    The follow-up on it was interesting:

    The Wanderer, September 13, 2018, St. Paul, Minnesota, page 2A

    Two Chicago-Based Priests Arrested In Miami: Two priests from the Archdiocese of Chicago were arrested Monday, September 3 in Miami, after the men were reportedly found engaged in a sex act within a parked car, according to Catholic News Agency. At least one of them was a participant in a program for Hispanic seminarians that was suspended by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

    One of the priests, Fr. Diego L. Berrio, is the pastor of Mission San Juan Diego in Arlington Heights, Ill. He was also appointed this summer the interim “coordinator of the Office for Extern and International Priests.”

    The other priest, Fr. Edwin Cortes, listed the parish as his address when he was arrested. A September 4 statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago said that Cortes is “an extern priest from Soacha, Colombia who served at St. Aloysius Parish in Chicago for one month, August 1 to August 31, 2018.”

    The statement said that Blase Cardinal Cupich of Chicago has removed Fr. Berrio from ministry and withdrawn his faculties to minister in the Archdiocese of Chicago, effective immediately. The archdiocese will appoint an administrator for the Mision San Juan Diego as soon as possible.”

    “Archdiocese representatives have been in contact with Fr. Cortes’ home diocese of Soacha, Colombia and informed them that Fr. Cortes will not be granted additional faculties to minister in the Archdiocese of Chicago,” it said.

    The priests were both charged with lewd conduct, and Cortes was also charged with indecent exposure.

    Berrio was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2008. The priest, a native of Colombia, came to Chicago through the Casa Jesus program, a “house of discernment” in which prospective seminarians from Latin America were invited to consider the priesthood during a year-long program sponsored by the archdiocese. The program was founded in 1987.

    The Casa Jesus program was suspended in 2016. In that year, NBC 5 Chicago reported homosexual activity among Casa Jesus participants, and said that in 2015 three participants had been dismissed after visiting a gay bar.

    In September 2016, Fr. Octavio Munoz was arrested on child pornography charges. Munoz was the rector of Casa Jesus from 2008 to 2015.

    More of the same folks that Ben, monicadeangelis, and William D. Lindsey tell us are “no problemo”.

  • You need to ask your caretaker to wipe the drool off your keyboard, BobBob, bless your precious little heart.

  • Your documented hatred for the Catholic Church, its teachings, its sacraments, and its ministers torpedoes your biased unhelpful comments at the waterline, infalliblyperplexed .

    I only mention that since you changed the topic to drool, which seems to be a subject you actually are familiar with.

  • Aptly named Cardinal Reinhard Marx has had his attention elsewhere for a few years.

    We need fewer PR men and bureaucrats, of which Marx is nothing else but.

  • As far as I am concerned, the Church is already destroyed. You don’t wantonly destroy the lives of likely millions of children and youth around the world and get a pass. The Church destroyed itself. You are part of the problem.

  • The church is the faithful; and they did not wantonly do anything wrong.
    It is the faithful that will demand a return to the catechism taught by holy priests. It is the faithful that will endure long after you cease to exist.

  • Many of the “faithful” have openly ridiculed victims who come forward, and actually sided with perpetrators and guilty bishops, citing “false accusations”. And it is the “faithful” who continue to financially support the largest sex-trafficking organization in the world.

  • To make the changes you suggest voids the sacredness and purpose of the mass; the celebration of which above all else is the purpose of the RCC.
    You seem to be on a mission to modify the current form of the priesthood; both in this post as well as others. Do you suggest women priests? Open homosexual priests? Married priests? Im not sure what your angle is; but to suggest changing the theology of the Eucharist is borderline heretical. I’ll let ThomasA or bob speak to that point.
    On a final note, I am not sure of your age or where you live (or if your even catholic); but to say that any priest is placed on a pedestal by any catholic (in this day and age) is simply crazy talk. You can’t even get your average Catholic to humbly kneel before receiving communion or acknowledge the crucifix as it processes up the aisle at the beginning of mass; much less placing a priest on a pedestal. Those days are over my friend.

  • Time to have your caretaker do that special thing for you that helps you calm down, BobBob, bless your precious little heart.

  • Once again your comments prove the car can’t go anywhere when the tank is empty, BobBob, bless your precious little heart.

  • Bob, once again your comments prove what a pathetic and horrible person you are. Here you are yet again belittling and swiping at another poster. How typically Christian of you.

  • Bob, once again your comments prove what a pathetic and horrible person you are. Here you are again belittling and swiping at another poster. How typically Christian of you.

  • She either doesn’t understand the phrase, “sacrifice your life to God” or, she thinks she knows better.
    I’m not a betting man, but I’m going to go with number two on this one.

  • She is in fundamental disagreement with the Catholic Church on all of its teachings on gender and sex, but also on its teaching authority and sacraments.

    Apparently this a result of a purported Masters Degree in theology in some half-baked program inhabited by Richard Peter McBrien wannabees, perhaps in Rome (but I seriously doubt it).

  • That’s interesting. I’ve known Monica for almost twenty years. She has an SSL in Scripture and a Ph.D. in Physics. If you care to test her in either field, you’re welcome to do so. Good luck….

  • Since you appear to be visiting https://religionnews.com/ from http://www.aggiornamento.net/ for the sole and only purpose of propping up https://disqus.com/by/monicadeangelis/ by setting me straight, and to this point neither here nor there have posted anything I believe to be worth reading, after this response I am blocking you, freeing up your time for more productive activities.

    https://help.disqus.com/commenting/user-blocking

    I have been reading her for some years.

    Based on sentence structure, vocabulary, and other evidence if she’s Italian, I’m the Godfather. She does occasionally drop a phrase or word in to maintain the illusion, but that’s all it is, illusion.

    Similarly if she has an SSL in Scripture, I’m Benedict XVI posting under a nom de plume.

    This all sailed better at National Catholic Reporter Comments, where a horse in a hoop skirt could get away with pretending to be a priest.

    So you’re suggesting that you’ve known her since she graduated from high school, and that’s supposed to support some conclusion or another, you’ve struck out at my end.

  • Corruption and sexual immorality in the German branch of the Roman Church was one of the triggers that made the Reformation so popular in northern Europe. You would think this outfit would learn something by now. New century same old tune.

  • Ok. If you like, I can arrange for Monica to debate you on biblical theology at the time of your choosing. You can even bring Benedict XVI with you. Any time you like.

  • The desire for filthy lucre by the princes, the desire for a good humpin’ by Luther, and the desire of both to bash Jews were two of the triggers that made the Lutheran revolt so popular in German-speaking lands.

  • Thumping Jews was a long established tradition of the Roman Church so nothing new there. Jews had been pushed out of western Europe to a large part in the 13th and 14th centuries. St. Mary’s Church or City Church in Wittenberg has a carving placed on the wall while it was a Roman Church from the mid 14th Century depicting Jews sucking from a pig.

    It was the corruption, morally bankrupt clergy and greed of the Roman Church that made it very popular with the peasants. The corruption was more intense then that in the British Isles. It was the time when Bishops’ posts were sold, a gay Pope, and sons of popes obtaining plum posts. Of course retaining control of ill gotten church assets was a major issue for the Roman Church . If the ideas of Luther had been accepted, there would not have been the split. Some church buildings were the property of the local city or noble man who simply turned management over to a new church group or in up to 2000 cases required the buildings be used by both churches.

  • Luther and the princes took “thumping Jews” to an entirely new level (Von den Jüden und iren Lügen).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Jews_and_Their_Lies

    Luther was no friend of the peasants.

    During the German Peasants’ War, during which 100,000 to 300,000 poorly armed peasants and farmers were slaughtered by the aristocracy, Luther sided with the aristocracy, writing “Wider die Mordischen und Reubischen Rotten der Bawren”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Against_the_Murderous,_Thieving_Hordes_of_Peasants

    Luther was seen as a shill to the princes, and was even stoned in Orlamünde.

    https://www.dokumentarfilm.com/en/luther-and-the-peasants-war/

  • No. Bob was just demanding and attacking, as usual. Best to push him back; it’s all he understands. Bob isn’t very clever, and is severely deluded.

  • The earliest name for “the mass” was the “eucharistic liturgy”, i.e., the assembly’s act of thanksgiving to God. My suggestions do not “void the sacredness and purpose of the RCC”; they, instead, are directed at retrieving the sacredness and purpose of Christian worship and community.

    I do support ordination of women to the presbyterate and episcopate. Rome to date has been offering excuses, not reasons, to prohibit ministerial ordination of women to these orders. Remember that our primitive ancestors in the Christian faith did not have *sacerdotal*, i.e., priestly, liturgical presiders. These persons led the assembly at worship; they did not function as intermediaries between God and worshipers, that is, as “priests”. I support optional celibacy. There are sufficient safeguards in place today to prevent clerics from passing down church property to their children. I’ve no problem with ordination of gays or straights who can abide with the rules. I support same-sex marriage so I would have no problem with two gay presbyters married to each other.

    My suggestions do not change the Church of Rome’s “theology of the eucharist”. If non-sacerdotal presiders recited the words of institution in the ancient churches, they can do so today. We do not question the “validity” of the ancient eucharists in spite of the fact our Christian ancestors did not have ordained priests. The latter is not necessary for a “valid” eucharist. There is nothing “heretical” in my suggestions. They are based on church history.

    I am age 70, served the old Tridentine mass in my youth, and have been Catholic all my life. My extended family has produced three clerics, at least two (if not three) of whom taught in seminaries, and one of whom became superior general of a Catholic religious congregation. I have 16 years of Catholic education. Even today, there are pastors, aka “JPII priests”, who believe their ordinations have conferred on them an “ontological superiority” over the laity. “Those days” of lay subservience are not over, especially in the more “traditionalist” parishes. If you disagree, I recommend Dean Hoge’s “Mind the gap: The return of the lay-clerical divide” at https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/mind-gap-0. Free access.

    Why kneel during eucharistic reception? This practice is a novelty that was imposed during the medieval period. There is nothing “traditional” about it.

  • Teplies in order:
    1) Removing the priest gets you to where you want to go; which is female or openly homosexual priests./laity. I think this changes the dynamics of the mass.
    2) I’d be curious to know (generally) where you live. I am a bit younger than you but have never felt nor seen priest worship as you experienced. I have met a few that were jerks, but I’ll chalk that up to statistical norms similar to other occupations.
    3) why wouldn’t you kneel prior to receiving the most sacred item that a human can receive? I am not talking about the communion rail; I am talking about mass in general.

  • Yet the Catholic Church is obsessed with sex and gender. And teaches things about it which you regard as “doctrine”. So your comment is hypocritical, at the least.

  • What else is driving people from Catholicism and religion in general? The answer, the Great Kibosh!!

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • 1. Jesus was not any kind of priest. The Twelve presumably would have been *baptismal* priests, not *sacerdotal* priests as we have today. It is not “priesthood” that encourages or discourages sexual activity. Sexual orientation, whether gay or straight, is real, not chosen. Its genesis remains a true scientific mystery to this day. I worshiped at a parish in Kentucky with a gay pastor as well as at a parish in San Francisco with a gay cleric. I don’t recall either situation resulting in fewer worshipers or poorer worship.

    2. I’m retired from federal civil service and have lived around the country during my career. I’m a straight divorced white male and a father. I’m also an honorably discharged Vietnam Era veteran. Shortly after retiring nearly 19 years ago, I returned to Louisville where I grew up. I don’t know what you mean by your ” hav[ing] never felt nor seen priest worship as you experienced.” If you are referring to Hoge’s article, you can find some biographical information at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Hoge and https://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/24/us/24hoge.html.

    3. As to mass in general, I recall kneeling or standing, depending on the parish where I worshiped. That said, let’s remember that standing was the practice in ancient Christian churches and remains so today in the Eastern Christian churches. Jesus, being a Jew, likely would have stood during worship.

    You might wish to peruse:

    + http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11044a.htm (look for reference to canon 20 of the Council of Nicaea),

    + http://www.fourthcentury.com/index.php/nicaea-325-canons (scroll down to canon 20),

    + http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/whystand.aspx,

    + https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/ask-the-expert-standing-in-shul/,

    + http://usccb.org/bible/luke/18, especially vv. 11 and 13, and

    + http://www.kencollins.com/worship/pray-20.htm,

    An interesting article about Jewish synagogues, albeit not the matter of standing, is at https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/the-synagogue-and-jewish-prayer-1.5402376.

  • As per James Somerville, Philosophy professor emeritus from Xavier University, Cincinnati,

    “The faith of the vast majority of believers (and non-believers) depends upon where they were born and when.”
    It is disturbing that such violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of it all.

    (By James M. Somerville

    “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.) ” https://www.theosophical.org/publications/quest-magazine/42-publications/quest-magazine/1488-from-exclusivism-to-convergence-part-1

  • “7) for the short-term, get out of the social justice business and focus all resources on teaching the next generation the catechism.”

    Hmmm……..Jesus might disagree with your idea. See Matthew 22:39-40 and 25:31-46. No reference to “teaching the…catechism”. What’s important to Jesus is helping one’s neighbor in need, the person Jesus identifies as himself!!!

ADVERTISEMENTs