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Church reform group sees ‘cover-up’ after German abuse report

The German Catholic reform movement "Wir sind Kirche" (We are the Church) has once again accused Church leaders of a "cover-up" in view of the Munich abuse report.

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The German Catholic reform movement “Wir sind Kirche” (We are the Church) has once again accused Church leaders of a “cover-up” in view of the Munich abuse report.

“The report makes clear the interconnectedness of the various contributors to the preservation of a closed ecclesiastical power system,” the movement’s spokesperson, Christian Weisner, said on Sunday.

There had been a highly damaging division of tasks between the Munich archbishops and the personnel managers. “Instead of showing empathy for the individual abuse victims, it was always first about protecting the clerical system,” Weisner said.

Lawyers had presented an investigation into abuse cases in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising in the southern state of Bavaria a few days ago.

According to the report, cases of sexual abuse were not dealt with appropriately there for decades.

The former archbishops Friedrich Wetter and Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, were specifically and personally accused of misconduct in several cases.

The current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, has also been accused of formal misconduct in two cases.

The experts speak of at least 497 victims and 235 alleged perpetrators, but they assume a significantly larger number of undisclosed cases.

Helmut Dieser, bishop of the western city of Aachen, called on Ratzinger to publicly take responsibility in a sermon in Aachen’s Cathedral on Sunday.

It was not acceptable that “those responsible take refuge in references to their ignorance or to other circumstances or other procedures at that time. Because of that, perpetrators were not stopped and children continued to be abused by them!” he said.

“Bishops, a former pope, all of them can become guilty, and in certain situations they must also confess this publicly, not only in prayer before God or in the sacrament in confession,” Dieser said.

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