Monday, February 22, 2010

German archbishop issues apology

German archbishop issues apology
German archbishop Robert Zollitsch today apologised for the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and said he would discuss the matter with the pope.

A growing number of sexual abuse cases at Jesuit high schools in Germany has come to light over the past month, with over 100 former pupils complaining of abuse. That has prompted apologies from leading church officials.

While paedophilia scandals have rocked the church in Ireland and the United States in recent years, there had been little abuse known in the pope's native Germany.

"I apologise to all the victims," Archbishop Zollitsch told a news conference. "This issue is so important to me that I will speak to Pope Benedict about it when I visit him in March."

Archbishop Zollitsch said the bishops would discuss ways to improve prevention of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions and regulations on how to deal with such cases.

Cases of sexual abuse have come to the light in at least seven Catholic schools and institutions across Germany, Spiegel magazine said this week.

The issue was thrust back into the international spotlight in November with the release of the Murphy Commission Report, a damning indictment of the abuse of children by Catholic priests in Ireland.

Pope Benedict last week held crisis talks with Irish bishops about the scandal, but critics say the Vatican and the church have not gone far enough in handing over suspected abusers to civil justice.

Archbishop Zollitsch said he wanted German state authorities to start investigating cases of sex abuse as soon as possible. "We need to be vigilant about what happens behind closed doors," he said. "And we need to recognise injustice when it happens and call it by its name."

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