SNAP disputes the numbers in Diocese of Muenster study that found ‘massive leadership failure’

(For Immediate Release June 13, 2022) 


A study commissioned by the Diocese of Muenster in Germany has reported “massive leadership failure” by diocesan bishops between 1947 and 2008. The study found at least 610 victims of abuse and said that the real figure is likely to be eight to ten times higher. 196 allegedly abusive clerics account for about 4% of all priests in the diocese between 1945 and 2020. About 5% of those were “serial” abusers, responsible for more than 10 acts each, the authors found.

While we agree that the number of victims is likely ten times higher than reported, we certainly are not convinced that there were only 196 named clergy alleged to have abused. We are confident that the same potential increase applied to the number of victims holds true for the number of alleged abusers. This is a staggering thought and these numbers show the clear need for immediate reform within the church in Germany.

Similarly, according to a report released in the UK, there were 3000 instances of child sexual abuse reported to the Catholic Church in that country between 1970-2015. Based on SNAP’s internal analysis, we believe that there are likely as many as 5,000 victims in the Diocese of Muenster alone and we hope that this initial news will remind those survivors that they are not alone and that there are people who will believe them and support them.

According to the diocesan statistics, as of 18 July 2013, there were 1,129 priests, 296 permanent deacons, and 2,540 religious in the diocese. There are 1.9 million Catholics, not all practicing, spread among 300 parishes in the Diocese of Muenster. It is a rather logical conclusion to anyone who reads the report or summary that the number of victims and abusers alike is astonishingly low. And yet, the figures often heard after investigative reports into sexual abuse by institutions, clergy, and religious are revealed, the number of alleged abusers always trends towards 10%.

We hope that this report will reveal in greater detail who knew what and when so that those who were involved in perpetrating or enabling abuse can be identified and removed from power. The best way to protect today's youth is to ensure that those Church officials who sold children’s futures for short-lived silence will be stripped of their positions. The innocent and the vulnerable deserve Catholic leaders who will protect them from those who would harm them.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(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

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