Thursday, March 4, 2010
Germany clergy abuse cover up
RIGHTS-GERMANY: 'Catholic Church Protects Paedophile Priests' By Julio Godoy BERLIN, Feb 28, 2010 (IPS) - The Catholic Church has for decades protected paedophile priests and clerics who sexually abused children from judiciary prosecution, according to German theologians, law experts, and internal church documents. The church hierarchy's complicity was confirmed recently through thousands of denouncements against numerous priests in Germany. In practically all the cases, the abusers were only transferred from one jurisdiction to another and never legally prosecuted.
Similar cases of sexual abuse of children within Catholic schools and other institutions, with impunity for the abusers, have been documented in such countries as Austria, Australia, France, Italy, the Philippines, Spain, and the United States. In Germany, the denouncements started last January, when Klaus Mertes, director of the Catholic Canisius high school in Berlin, in an open letter addressed to former students, apologised for the sexual abuse priests had inflicted on them in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the letter, Mertes said that he knew "since years" of the abuse, and called them "systematic and years-long." He also urged the victims to reveal the precise the nature of the abuse and encouraged them to ‘'break the wall of silence" maintained around the cases. Much attention has fallen on the Canisius high school, managed by the Jesuit order, and rated as one of the best educational institutions in Germany.
On Feb. 14, Mertes said at a press conference that the number of cases of sexual abuse at Canisius reached "the hundreds" and suggested that the Catholic church pay financial reparations to the victims....According to German theologians, and Germany's prosecution officials, the church hierarchy invariably hid the abuse. The German theologian Uta Ranke-Heinemann told IPS that the Catholic Church "from the Vatican down to the priests on the field, have helped to guarantee the abusers absolute impunity. There are two internal documents in which the Catholic church takes care of maintaining the abuse in absolute secrecy," Ranke-Heinemann said.
The first document, titled "Crimen Sollicitationis" (Latin for "the crime of soliciting"), goes back to 1962, and was written by the Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, at the time prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Inquisition. The second paper, "De delictis gravioribus" ("on more serious crimes"), was written in 2001 by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, today's Pope Benedict XVI. He was also prefect of the congregation.
"Both documents, which are today in the possession of every Catholic bishop around the globe, emphasise the exclusive jurisdiction of the Vatican on sexual crimes such paedophilia," Ranke-Heinemann told IPS. "In the letters, Ottaviani and Ratzinger order bishops all over the world to report the priests' sexual abuses against children
exclusively to the Vatican, under the threat of excommunication. These threats have led to a total obstruction of judiciary inquiries, other state law enforcement actions, and to impunity," Ranke-Heinemann added. Ranke-Heinemann said that the only penalty for the abusers has been their "continued relocation. They are continuously transferred from one place to another. This allows them to walk abroad and be up to their mischief in total impunity." http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50479