3,677 sex abuse cases in German Catholic Church, study finds

In this file photo taken on October 22, 2005 Pope Benedict XVI (C) attends a concert by the Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir with his brother Georg Ratzinger (Centre L) at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Germany's Catholic Church on September 12, 2018 voiced shame over decades of child sex abuse by priests, as a leaked study into the scandal showed that thousands of minors were assaulted. (AFP / OSSERVATORE ROMANO / ARTURO MARI)
Updated 13 September 2018
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3,677 sex abuse cases in German Catholic Church, study finds

  • German Bishops Conference regrets leaking of the report, but admits that the study confirms “the extent of the sexual abuse” that took place
  • An investigation in the United States last month found rampant sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by about 300 Catholic priests in the US state of Pennsylvania

BERLIN: A report on sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church in Germany says 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014, two leading German media outlets said Wednesday.
Spiegel Online and Die Zeit said the report they obtained — commissioned by the German Bishops Conference and researched by three universities — concludes that more than half of the victims were 13 or younger and most were boys. Every sixth case involved rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, both weeklies reported. Die Zeit wrote that 969 abuse victims were altar boys.
The report also says that the actual number of victims was likely much higher, according to the research by experts from the Universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim.
The German Bishops Conference said in a written response a few hours later that it regretted the leaking of the report, but that the study confirms “the extent of the sexual abuse” that took place.
“It is depressing and shameful for us,” Bishop Stephan Ackermann said. He didn’t further elaborate on the findings of the report, but said the Catholic group would present the study as initially planned on Sept. 25 together with the authors.
Die Zeit wrote that researchers weren’t allowed to look at the original church files but had to provide questionnaires to the dioceses, which then provided the information.
In their conclusions, the researchers write that there was evidence that some files were manipulated or destroyed, many cases were not brought to justice, and that sometimes abuse suspects — primarily priests — were simply moved to other dioceses without the congregations being informed about their past.
The Catholic Church has been struggling with sex abuse by its clergy for a long time.
In 2010, the German church was roiled by a sex abuse scandal triggered by the head of a Jesuit school in Berlin who went public about decades-long sexual abuse of high school students by clergy. Following that, a whole wave of victims who were sexually abused by clergy spoke out across the country.
An investigation in the United States last month found rampant sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by about 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania.
Earlier this week, the Vatican said it is preparing the “necessary clarifications” about accusations that top Vatican officials including Pope Francis covered up the sexual misconduct of a now-disgraced American ex-cardinal.
Also on Wednesday, the Vatican said it’s summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children.


Ex-Central Africa militia leader arrives at ICC detention center: spokesman

In this file photo taken on October 29, 2018 members of the armed forces arrest Central African MP Alfred Yekatom aka "Rambo" (C), who represents the southern M'baiki district former militia leader, after he fired the gun at the parliament in Bangui. (AFP)
Updated 28 min 56 sec ago
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Ex-Central Africa militia leader arrives at ICC detention center: spokesman

  • The ICC said Yekatom would be tried for “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity” carried out by so-called anti-balaka militias

THE HAGUE: A former Central African Republic militia leader nicknamed “Col. Rambo” arrived on Saturday in The Hague, where he will stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.
Currently a lawmaker, Alfred Yekatom’s extradition was the first of its kind from the CAR.
“The suspect arrived in the detention center,” said ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah of the former army officer, who was the target of US sanctions in 2015 for suspected attacks against Muslims, civilian deaths, and for using child fighters.
After being elected to parliament in 2016, Yekatom, 43, was arrested in October for opening fire inside the legislature while its new president was being elected.
ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda welcomed the extradition, saying it “advances the cause of justice in the Central African Republic” and promising that she would continue to pursue her “quest for truth and justice.”
Pierre Brunisso from the International Federation of Human Rights watchdog added that it sent “a strong message to the leaders of armed groups.”
“Those who think they can claim an amnesty at the negotiating table are mistaken,” he said.
The ICC said Yekatom would be tried for “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity” carried out by so-called anti-balaka militias.
The court launched an investigation in September 2014 into crimes committed in the country since 2012.
A three-judge bench of The Hague-based court’s pre-trial chamber issued an arrest warrant against Yekatom last Sunday.
“The Chamber is satisfied that the overall supporting evidence is sufficient to establish reasonable grounds that Yekatom bears criminal responsibility,” the judges said in the warrant, made public by the ICC late on Saturday.
This included acts of murder, torture, deportation and using child soldiers younger than 15 years in the anti-balaka group between December 5, 2013 and August 2014.
In continuing violence the CAR, however, a Tanzanian peacekeeper died late Friday after an attack on a United Nations base and a priest was found burned to death, the UN and the Catholic Church said after sectarian clashes that claimed nearly 40 lives.
The soldier died of injuries sustained in the raid on the base in Gbambia in the country’s west, the UN mission MINUSCA said.

An armed group called Siriri, created this year by Fulani cattle herders, operates in the area. Led by a man named Ardo Abba, its purported aim is to thwart attacks by cattle rustlers.
The UN said the group had attacked Gbambia in mid-June. A Tanzanian UN peacekeeper died that month after Siriri staged an ambush in the region.
Meanwhile, the priest’s charred body was recovered in the central town of Alindao, Father Mathieu Bondobo, vicar-general of the main cathedral in Bangui, told AFP.
On Friday, the UN said 37 deaths were confirmed in Alindao — including that of another priest — while 20,000 people were affected by the violence. “Thousands” were forced to flee.
The bloodletting began Thursday when Christian militiamen killed Muslims, prompting revenge attacks during which a church was set ablaze.
Alindao is a stronghold of the Union for Peace in CAR (UPC), a Muslim militia. It has witnessed chronic fighting in recent months that has also killed other UN soldiers and a humanitarian aid worker.

One of the world’s poorest nations despite a rich supply of diamonds and uranium, the CAR has struggled to recover from a 2013 civil war that erupted when President Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.
In response, Christians, who account for about 80 percent of the population, organized vigilante units dubbed “anti-balaka” in reference to a type of machete.
In September, the UN warned of a “disastrous” humanitarian situation in the region, which it said was under the control of armed groups.
The government controls only a small part of the country.
The UN has about 12,500 personnel deployed in the CAR as part of its MINUSCA mission, one of the world body’s largest peacekeeping forces.