Friday, July 9, 2010

German Archbishop admits mistakes in sex abuse scandal

German Archbishop admits mistakes in sex abuse scandal
Jul 9, 2010, 16:43 GMT

Freiburg, Germany - The head of the German Catholic church, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, admitted Friday that he made mistakes in his handling of a sex abuse scandal before and during the 1990s, and asked the victims for forgiveness.

Zollitsch said the diocese of Freiburg, which he heads, had known about abuse cases in a small town in the Black Forest far earlier than it had previously let on.

The vicar in Oberharmersbach, 55 kilometres from Freiburg, is thought to have sexually abused boys in his charge over several years. So far, 17 men have contacted the diocese, all of whom said they were abused between the ages of 10 and 16.

Zollitsch said he should have done more to pursue indications of abuse in 1992, when he was responsible for church employees. He also admitted that he should have sought a greater dialogue with victims and witnesses at the time.

'I beg them for forgiveness with all my heart,' Zollitsch said after meeting abuse victims.

The allegedly abusive vicar was given early retirement in 1991, and no legal recourse was taken. He committed suicide four years later.

In the first half of 2010, the diocese of Freiburg has received indications of abuse allegations concerning a total of 44 priests and other church associates. All cases date between the years of 1950 and 2000.

State prosecutors are also investigating Zollitsch over claims that he aided and abetted the sexual abuse of children.

He is accused of knowingly re-assigning church duties in 1987 to a priest that had abused children during the 1960s at the Birnau monastery on Lake Constance.

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