German Bishops Report Indicates Thousands of Cases of Clerical Abuse

A report commissioned by the German Bishops’ Conference, known as the “MHG Study,” has been obtained by media outlets Spiegel Online and Die Ziet, and the findings are staggering: between 1946 and 2014, there were a reported 3,677 cases of abuse reported to have been perpetuated by 1,670 clerics in Germany.

The majority of victims (62%) were male, and more than half were at most 13 years of age.

According to Spiegel, “there is no reason to believe that ‘the sexual abuse of minors by clergy of the Catholic Church is a past and now overcome topic’. The series of abuses continued until the end of the investigation period.”

Researchers at several universities throughout Germany cited in the report say the number of actual victims was likely even higher than the reported findings. Half of the cases were discovered only because of a request for compensation from the victims. Three quarters of the victims were said to have had “a church or pastoral relationship with the accused.” The confidential report examined more than 38,000 files from 27 German dioceses, and researchers noted that there is evidence that some of the files were altered or destroyed, leading to suspicion that there is an “assumed dark field” of unknown and unreported abuse cases.

Inexplicably, the German bishops’ report states that they believe that one problem leading to the abuse is “the fundamental refusal of the Catholic Church to consecrate homosexual men,” which, the report says, “is urgent to rethink.” The report also proposes a re-evaluation of priestly celibacy, which obligation they describe as a “potential risk factor.”

The German bishops have not yet issued a statement on the report but are said to be preparing a response. They had originally planned to present the findings on September 25.

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