March 13th, 2010

Vexen Crabtree 2015

Sexual Child Abuse Cases in Germany

I just wrote up two BBC News articles on cases of child sexual abuse by priests in Germany.

I haven't been collecting any statistics on abuse of children by priests in Germany, but, this year (2010) a BBC News article mentioned that there are 170 child abuse cases there by Catholic priests alone, for which German Bishop Robert Zollitsch apologised, and Catholic Pope discussed these cases at a meeting in Germany. Cases in 18 of 27 dioceses in Germany are being investigated at the moment in 2010.

In one bad case, Norbert Denef was suffered sexual abuse by a priest for five years, starting at the age of just 10 years old, while attending a boys choir in the late 1950s to the 1960s. Denef says "I felt I was in a dark place, in solitary confinement". And in a shocking and unfortunate twist, he was then abused for a further three years by a Church organist. It is either naivety or sexual blindness that allows this behaviour to continue for so long undetected - or at least unchallenged - and until the Catholic Church massively changes its attitude towards sexuality, sexual education, and priestly celibacy, we should not assume Christian organisations to be safe places for minors or the vulnerable of society.

Germany's justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, has criticized the Catholic Church for its "wall of silence" over child abuse, saying that the Vatican's rule on secrecy was impeding investigation of these cases.

I've added that to "Child Abuse by Christian Priests: Horror, Paedophilia and the Clergy: Germany" by Vexen Crabtree (2009)

Later on that page I discuss the findings of psychologists and sociologists who believe that it is Christian teachings on sexuality, and celibacy, that leads to this prevalence of sexual abuse cases, and the Pope at the meeting in Germany discussed the Archbishop of Vienna who made some relevent comments. I've added this to the same page under the heading Christian Teachings on Sexuality Cause Sexual Dysfunction:

In 2010 Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, voiced a similar-sounding opinion in a diocese magazine, suggesting that the Catholic Church should examine its policy of celibacy and that these problems "and the issue of personality development. It requires a great deal of honesty, both on the part of the Church and of society as a whole" although I am not sure it is the honesty of society as a whole that is in question, given the scale of sexual abuse cover-ups by Christian churches. Speaking of honesty, after the Cardinals comments were noted by the outside world, including the Pope, the Cardinal issued a follow-up statement saying that priestly celibacy wasn't the "prime" cause of Christian child sexual abuse. He meant be right; the prime cause might be Christian teachings on sexuality in general.