The head of Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops issued a strongly worded Good Friday statement denouncing what he called „the appalling crimes of sexual abuse“ and the „great injustice“ done to victims. Archbishop Robert Zollitsch called on the church to confront its past failures in handling abuse cases and called on Catholics to pray this Easter weekend for those abused by priests.
But the decision to acknowledge the abuse seems unlikely to assuage the anger of victims groups. They continue to press for action from independent investigators and the German government, saying the Catholic Church has shown itself unable to investigate its own crimes.
This week, the German Catholic Church launched a nationwide hot line for abuse victims. The first day alone, it was flooded with nearly 4,500 calls.
Victims Seek Government Action
Norbert Denef is co-founder of Network B, a new support group for German victims of sexual abuse. He says that as a child, he was drugged and raped by his parish priest. Denef says the church’s hot line is absurd: How can victims possibly get any help from those responsible for the abuse? he asks.
„If the mafia were given the opportunity to investigate its own crimes, everyone would think that’s crazy. This is similar,“ Denef says.
If the mafia were given the opportunity to investigate its own crimes, everyone would think that’s crazy. This is similar.
– Norbert Denef, abuse victim and activist, on a church-sponsored hot line for abuse victims
Many victims in Germany still feel overlooked, not only by the church but also by the German government. Network B is asking the government to exclude the Catholic Church from the state-organized round-table discussions on abuse due to start in late April.