Bad news out of Germany: they’ve been investigating cases of priestly child abuse, and found lots (159 priests, 15 deacons, 96 religion teachers and six pastoral employees implicated so far), but they also found evidence of a systematic cover-up by the Catholic church.
Germany’s Catholic Church systematically covered up cases of sexual abuse within its own ranks for several decades, according to an expert study commissioned by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.
The lawyer heading up the investigation, Marion Westpfahl, said at a press conference on Friday that the available records pointed to huge gaps in the documentation between 1945 and 2009. She added this hinted strongly at a “systematic system of cover-up,” in which few abuse cases were criminally prosecuted.
“Only 26 priests were convicted for sexual offences,” Westpfahl explained to reporters, saying she found 365 files containing evidence that “acts of abuse had taken place in an almost commonplace manner.”
“We have to assume that there is a large unknown number [of abuse cases],” she said. “We are dealing with the extensive destruction of files.”
Westpfahl also said that the period of 1977 to 1982, when Pope Benedikt XVI – then Archbishop Josef Ratzinger – headed up the archdiocese, was particularly poorly documented.
So now we know what he’s good at — burying the bodies.
The study was commissioned by Archbishop Reinhard Marx, who made this little comment that somehow reminded me of someone else.
For me, these were surely the worst months of my life. I felt shame, grief and dismay. As a church, we ask forgiveness for those things done by our church employees.
No one gives a damn about your worst moment, Marx. Think about how awful it was for the people under your care, instead.
I am beginning to understand why Christians makes such a big deal about forgiveness. It’s because they need it so much.