A new scandal of sexual abuse of children discovered in the last hours left exposed to the Catholic Church, which is looking for a way to confront the serious problem it is going through. The last case refers to the abuse that thousands of children suffered from priests between 1946 and 2014 in Germany, according to a study on the German Catholic Church that is accused of hiding the facts, several media reported on Wednesday.
The full study will be presented on September 25 in Fulda (state of Hesse) during the German Episcopal Conference by its president, Cardinal Reinhard Marx.
At least 3,677 children, mostly males under the age of 13, were victims of sexual abuse by 1,670 clerics, according to this report, which was released by the weekly Spiegel and Die Zeit.
For three and a half years, a group of researchers from the universities of Mannheim, Heidelberg and Giessen examined 38,000 "dossiers" and manuscripts from 27 German dioceses and transmitted by the Church. However, they did not have direct access to the archives.
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According to the report, for decades the Church has "destroyed or manipulated" numerous documents linked to the suspects and has "minimized" the seriousness and extent of the events.
According to the report, the accused priests were often transferred without warning the faithful about the possible danger of these for the children in their new dioceses. In total, only a third of the suspects have faced trials according to the canon law, but the sanctions have been minimal, even nonexistent, say the authors of the report.
For several years, the Catholic Church in Germany, as in all parts of the world, has been shaken by the revelations of sexual abuse.
In 2017, a report revealed that at least 547 children from the Catholic choir of Regensburg (in Upper Palatinate, Bavaria) were victims of brutality between 1945 and 1992.
This case is added to that reported a month ago by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (United States), who published a report of more than 1,300 pages in which it is indicated that some 300 Catholic priests are responsible for the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children in six dioceses of that state.
According to the text, the victims were mostly males, although there were also female minors, adolescents and preadolescents.
Pope calls conferences
In the midst of the scandal, Pope Francis convened a meeting in February 2019 at the Vatican with all presidents of Episcopal Conferences to address the issue of "the protection of minors," announced the Holy See on Wednesday. For months, Pope Francis has faced an unprecedented crisis due to the continuous revelations of sexual abuse scandals in several countries, particularly Australia, Chile and the United States.
The meeting will take place between February 21 and 24, 2019, according to a statement from "C9", the Council of Cardinals that helps Pope Francis in the reform of the Vatican.
A former Embassy of the Holy See, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, came to ask for the resignation of the Pope in August, after accusing Francisco of having protected for five years the American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, suspected of sexual assaults on seminarians and clerics.
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The Pope plans to receive on Thursday the main members of the American Episcopal Conference: its president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, its vice president, Monsignor José Horacio Gómez and its secretary general, Monsignor Brian Bransfield.
Also present will be the Archbishop of Boston, Sean O'Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the protection of minors.
The O'Malley commission had already warned on Sunday that the fight against child abuse should be the "priority" of the Catholic Church.
Dismayed and ashamed
The German Catholic Church declared on Wednesday "dismayed and ashamed" after the filtering of the study that reveals the abuse of thousands of children by priests.
"We are aware of the extent of the sexual abuse that the study demonstrates, and we are shocked and ashamed of it," said Bishop Stephan Ackermann on behalf of the Episcopal Conference.
September 11 of the Church
The sexual abuses committed by priests against children for years are "on September 11" of the Catholic Church, said Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, secretary of the pope emeritus Benedict XVI.
"Today is September 11, date of an apocalyptic disaster, and also the Church, in the whirlwind of the news the last weeks (…) observes full of confusion its own September 11, our catastrophe," said the archbishop, in reference to sexual abuse.
"However (our catastrophe) is not associated with a single date, but many days and many years and countless victims," added the "strong man" of the Vatican during the pontificate of Pope Ratzinger.
Gaenswein used the simile between the attacks of 9/11 in the United States and the earthquake created in the Catholic Church by the revelations about decades of sexual abuse when presenting the book "The Benedict option" by American journalist Rod Dreher, in the Italian Parliament.
"No one has attacked the Church of Christ with airplanes full of passengers, St. Peter's Basilica is still standing," he said, but -he continued with the parallelism- "the news coming from the USA lately has informed us of how many people have they were irreparably and mortally wounded by priests of the Catholic Church. "
With AFP and EFE