German Catholics urge pope to speak out on sex scandals

March 15, 2010

"... And the pope is silent" reads the front page headline in this Hamburg daily, 15 March 2010

German Catholic politicians and lay activists urged Pope Benedict on Monday to speak out about sexual abuse cases by priests that have shocked the country and led to questions about his management of the crisis. The calls came amid widespread criticism in the media that the Bavarian-born pontiff made no statement after getting a briefing on the scandals at the Vatican on Friday from the leader of the Church in Germany, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch.

In Bavaria, a convicted abuser priest whose transfer to Munich in 1980 while Pope Benedict was archbishop there threatened to draw the pontiff into the scandal, was suspended from his post in a spa town, the Munich archdiocese announced.

“The Holy Father needs to say something about this,” Dirk Tänzler, head of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ), told the Berliner Zeitung daily. “The Church needs to be more honest and stricter with itself, and that naturally includes the pope,” Wolfgang Thierse, a vice president of the German parliament and member of the Central Committee of Catholics, told ARD television.

A Vatican prelate, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said Benedict would soon speak with “his clear and decisive voice, without hiding anything” in an expected letter on similar scandals in Ireland, but gave no date or hint if it would mention Germany.  Fisichella, in an interview with the Milan daily Corriere della Sera, echoed Vatican attacks on the media for pursuing the scandals. “The rage against the pontiff is insane,” he said.

Read the whole story here.


"Benedict XVI is silent" reads the headline in this Munich daily.

Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I think the pope doesn’t have any dope. These poppy chewing humdrums should be banned and kicked daily for making organization out of religion

Posted by Bharateey | Report as abusive

The Catholic Church has ALWAYS taught that sexual abuse of minors is a damnable sin, of the worst kind, in which Jesus Christ himself said it would be better for someone who does this to tie a millstone around his neck and be thrown into the deepest part of the sea.

The total number of all priests accused of sexual abuse of minors is less than 5% of all Catholic clergy. That means 95% of Catholic clergy have never been accused and are doing their jobs correctly.

In spite of what people say about clerical celibacy being a “cause” of these problems, actual statistics indicate that the majority of sex-abuse of minors is perpetrated by married men. Statistically speaking, being a celibate man actually REDUCES your odds of sexually abusing minors.

In the overwhelming vast majority of cases where sexual abuse was reported, the alleged victim was a male between the ages of 12 and 18. Victims younger than 12 were almost never reported, and sexual abuse of females was also rare. This is not the clinical definition of pedophilia. It is however a type of predatory homosexuality that seeks to take advantage of underage young men.

Homosexual men are not allowed to become priests in the Catholic Church. In order for a homosexual to become a priest he must lie about his homosexuality just to get into seminary and remain “in the closet” indefinitely. If he is ever discovered to be gay, he could be fired and laicized (defrocked).

Sexual abuse of minors is slightly higher in Protestant churches according to data released by insurance agencies that underwrite them.

Sexual abuse of minors is significantly higher in non-religious institutions that deal with children, particularly public schools, where according to a U.S. government report, a child is literally 100 times more likely to be molested in a public school than in a Catholic church.

The reforms implemented in the US Catholic Church after the sex-abuse scandal of 2003 have been hailed by child protective services as the most comprehensive ever seen in a public institution and have been cited as a model for other institutions to follow.

The mainstream media continues to report sexual-abuse cases in the Catholic Church disproportionally to sexual-abuse cases in Protestant churches and the public schools. In spite of actual sexual-abuse statistics being lower in the Catholic Church than in Protestant churches and the public schools, the media continues to focus on Catholicism like a laser beam, while higher numbers of sexual abuse cases in other churches and institutions are almost systematically ignored.

( First as the prefect for the Church’s doctrinal congregation, and now as Pope, Benedict XVI has made a decisive contribution to the Church’s battle against the sexual abuse of minors, according to an Italian bishop specialized in canon law.

Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alessandria, Italy, defended the Holy Father’s “rigor” in the effort to stop abuse in the Church. His reflection was published in Sunday’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

The prelate noted that the Church — “contrary to the deformed image that is presented — is the institution that has engaged in the most decided battle against the sexual abuse of minors, beginning from within.” In this effort, Bishop Versaldi said, Benedict XVI has made a “decisive impulse.”

Recalling the future Pope’s 20 years at the helm of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the prelate affirmed that “precisely from that observatory, Cardinal Ratzinger had the possibility to follow cases of abuse that were denounced and he fostered a more rigorous reform, including legislative, in this matter….

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published in 2001 a document with guidelines for cases of sexual abuse. The document has been portrayed as the Vatican’s effort to silence sexual abuse, but in reality, it emphasizes the seriousness of these crimes, to the extent that judgements regarding them are reserved to the Holy See.

Bishop Versaldi, who is a retired professor of canon law and psychology from Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, added that from the Chair of Peter, Benedict XVI has continued “a style of government that aims for the purification of the Church, eliminating the ‘filth’ that nests in it.”

“Benedict XVI has shown himself to be a vigilant shepherd of his flock,” the prelate affirmed. “[…] Thanks to the Pope’s greater rigor, various episcopal conferences are [now] clarifying cases of sexual abuse, and collaborating with civil authorities to bring justice to the victims.”

Clear condemnation

The Italian prelate also reiterated the Church’s “unconditional condemnation of these extremely grave crimes, which are repugnant to the conscience of any person.”

“If, in addition, these crimes are committed by persons who have a role in the Church, persons in which special trust is placed by the faithful and, in particular, by children, then the scandal is even more grave and condemnable,” he said. “The Church does not intend to tolerate any uncertainty about the condemnation of the crime or about the removal from the ministry of one who stains himself with such infamy, together with just reparation to the victims.”

Bishop Versaldi also lamented a false portrayal of the Church and its discipline regarding celibacy.

“It is unjust,” he said, “not to recognize in it, and especially in Benedict XVI, the merit of an open and decisive battle against the crimes committed by its priests. […] The rigorous and clear line taken by the Holy See must be accepted by the Church, and not just the Church, to guarantee truth, justice and charity to all.”

Posted by drosaupan | Report as abusive

Re: Fact #2. So, the Roman Catholic system of priestly formation creates priests who abuse children “only 5%” of the time? 1 out of 20 are suspected child molesters? I hope you’re not right. Because if a hospital told me “Don’t worry, only 1 out of 20 of our medical staff might molest you while you are here”, I would run screaming from that hospital.

Posted by louisbenron | Report as abusive

Pointing the finger at all the *other* child-abusers in the world may be satisfying, but it is not productive. It does not spare future victims of predators in any way. “Everyone else was doing it too!” is a child’s excuse.

But this is not the only reason everyone is so incensed against the Church in this case. The Church KNOWINGLY not only COVERED UP the abuse and prevented the civil authorities from doing their jobs, they also TRANSFERRED ABUSIVE PRIESTS to other parishes, where yet more children were abused. And when they were called out for protecting the interests of priests (and thus, the Church hierarchy) over the interests of the children in their care, their defense was: “Other people do this too!”

We have statistics indicating abuse in Protestant and Jewish congregations BECAUSE THOSE EVENTS WERE NOT COVERED UP. They were investigated by civil authorities and the transgressors were subject to civil punishment. Catholic priests are not be above the law. No other church hierarchy attempts to place its members outside of civil authority. Why should the Catholic Church be so lucky?

Posted by Kestra | Report as abusive

@The Church KNOWINGLY not only COVERED UP the abuse and prevented the civil authorities from doing their jobs –

There’s a problem in this argument. It is forgotten that for a case to prosper before the civil courts, it is the victim or their parents or guardians or relatives of the victim who must file the complaint before civil authorities that said crime happened. Did they do that? If they did that, these abusers should have been in jail. I do not know what kind of cover-up the media is talking about but the Church doesnt have that capability to cover-up the crime as compared to the government’s modern facilities for crime investigation, police and anti catholic courts.

@they also TRANSFERRED ABUSIVE PRIESTS to other parishes, where yet more children were abused.

The Church teaches that everybody must be given a second chance to prove that he has reformed. Their reassignment is like a penalty of Destierro where one could not approach a certain number of kilometer radius where he committed the crime. Besides, there was no complaint before the authorities so therefore they can still be reassigned to other parishes.

But to say that the Church resisted any arrest against a priest is a LIE. To say that the Church does not cooperate with Civil Authorities is a LIE. How many parishes had closed just to pay Damages ordered by the Courts? Did the media reported that? In USA alone many dioceses had ceased to become a diocese.

@Catholic priests are not be above the law. No other church hierarchy attempts to place its members outside of civil authority. Why should the Catholic Church be so lucky?

Catholic priests are not above the law. In fact they are ABUSED by the law. The Catholic Church has even been so CURSED and not lucky. Laws are enacted to silence the Church. Liberal media is misrepresenting the truth about the Catholic Church. As if the Catholic Church frustrates the ends of justice. If the accusations are true, bring it before the proper forum. Arrest the priest who are guilty of the crime. These priests are not Bin Laden who until now has not been captured. It is easy to apprehend them. The State has all the surveillance equipment, police, hostile government agencies who can help the victims to prosecute their cases.

But one thing, the media must be fair in their reporting. If how the media covers these sex abuse committed by the Catholic Clergies, this must also be done on sex abuse committed by other religions or other institutions such as the Muslims, Protestants, Jews, MASONS,and in the government itself particularly in public schools.

Posted by drosaupan | Report as abusive

[…] — a tactic that will not play out well with an already-boiling European public that has been looking for him to personally speak […]

Posted by List grows of Catholic Church’s latest abuse scandals « Coreys Views | Report as abusive

Stats on Catholic Church sex scandals are NEVER properly reported.
— There are hundreds of millions of Catholics. How many of them have been abused
— In the recent Irish Dublin scandal, the reported cover up addressed a period of 70 years and identified 170 cases of abuse. That is less than 3 cases per year. How many priests in that area per year? How many youthful male Catholics in that area per year. What percentages per year. If only 300,000 Catholics in Dublin per year (ha!), that is .0001 percent were abused. Ask Guinness what is its rate of statistical success for weeding out bad bottle of beer ? You will find that .0001 percent is impossibly close to perfection, and this stat is based on a likely underestimate of the Catholic population that is at risk, which when corrected will make the error even more minute. Ask then how many priests serving in Dublin area in any given year and again consider the 3 cases per year. If only 3,000 priests, then the rate of potentially abusive priests was 1/1000. When the Bishop is accused of “covering up” priestly abuse, ask whether there was ever a factual report of rape, battery, blood .. ignored by a Bishop? Is it a cover-up to refuse to play-to-the-news the allegations of potential victims? Certainly, sometimes it may be so. But then again consider the rate of potential abuse, and consider the rate of potentially wrongly reported abuse? Which should a Bishop do — leap to the support of a potential victim, or leap to pillorying a potential abuser? Neither of course. But after all is said and done, if an abuser is proven to be such, any delay by the Bishop is said to be “cover up.” And cover up of what?
== Doubtless there are sick priests, even malevolent priests, and some who are downright pains in the you-know-what. But how do you tell them apart, and who should do that .. the evening news or the priestly hierarchy .. and what are the limits on “forgiveness” for incidents of abuse that may have been but are decades old, from priests who have lived decades of self-effacing and useful lives since times when any abuse has even been alleged. But then consider, does a Bishop who “forgives” and does not publicize and eliminate an accused abuser, contribute to a “cover-up” if indeed the accusations do not persist .. from others ? And what are the statistics on independent allegations of repeat offenses in those 170 cases. Probably in all. But in how many cases were aberrant but truly repentant priests “saved” by Episcopal charity and enabled to lead useful and even holy lives thereafter? And lastly, for a number to use as a basis for comparison, estimate how many young men of 21 or so have, on some late night, “groped” (or worse) some young lady of under whatever is the local legal age of consent. Of this number, ask how many of these young ladies would allege years later that (a) they were traumatized, and (b) that the young man was a child abuser IF there was money to be had. Answer is “who knows?” But the answer must be known before anyone can begin to establish the magnitude of any sexual abuse crisis among Catholic Bishops.

Posted by truth-be-told | Report as abusive