Same Old Story as Report into Catholic Clergy Abuse Released in Cologne
Yet another report has been released on the scope of Catholic clergy abuse and once again we are reading about Church officials choosing to ignore allegations, transfer abusers, and work to protect reputations at the expense of children and the vulnerable. What is true in Germany is true in the rest of the world and we believe it is incumbent on secular officials everywhere to intervene and investigate in order to end the worldwide problem of clerical sexual violence in Catholic institutions.
The report into abuse and cover-up in the Archdiocese of Cologne found 75 instances of “mishandling” by Church officials, including Cologne’s previous leader, Cardinal Joachim Meisner. According to the report, there have been at least 314 victims and 202 abusers within the Archdiocese since 1975. Given what we know about delayed disclosure in cases of childhood sexual abuse, we believe that there are certainly more victims and abusers that have yet to be identified publicly.
It is important to recognize that this report was commissioned and reviewed by Catholic officials themselves, so we firmly believe a secular report would be even more damning than information released by the Archdiocese of Cologne. We know that the numbers released in this report and the one previously commissioned are low because Church authorities admit that documents and files related to abuse were destroyed. Sadly, the full truth about the scope and prevalence of Catholic clergy abuse in Germany, as elsewhere, may never truly be revealed.
We hope that this information will compel government authorities in Germany to follow in the footsteps of countries like Australia, Canada, and the U.K. and institute a high-level commission or investigation into the realities of abuse and cover-up in Catholic Germany. We are sure that a secular investigation would not only reveal a more complete picture, but would also bring more victims out of the woodwork who would be more willing to discuss their abuse with governmental officials as opposed to representatives of the institution that already betrayed their trust and sacrificed their innocence.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)