A new report released Tuesday revealed thousands of children had been sexually abused by clergy within the Catholic Church in Germany.
Between the years of 1946 and 2014, more than 1,600 clergymen are alleged to have sexually assaulted some 3,700 people, though experts familiar with the study believe the number of victims could be much higher than the stated total.
The details of the analysis were first leaked in early September to the German magazine Der Spiegel, according to Reuters. The study was commissioned by the German Bishops’ Conference (GBC) and executed by researchers from three German universities.
Some 1,670 clerics, mostly priests, were found to have committed sexual abuse between 1946 & 2014 — around 4.4 % of all serving clerics within that period.
There were at least 3,677 individual victims; most of whom were boys & all were minors #Germany https://t.co/Xv0X9Apq1K
— Smita Prakash (@smitaprakash) September 25, 2018
In response to the findings, the head of the Catholic Church in Germany apologized “for all the failure and pain” and acknowledged the “guilty must be punished” for their actions.
“For too long in the church,” Cardinal Reinhard Marx, chair of the GBC, said, “we have looked away, denied, covered up and didn’t want it to be true. All this must not remain without consequences. Those affected are entitled to justice.”
Marx added that the study makes clear the Catholic Church has “by no means overcome the issue of dealing with the sexual abuse of minors.”
In 2010, Matthias Katsch, now 55 years old, spoke out about the abuse he endured. When he was 13 years old, he said a priest at his Jesuit school in Berlin first molested him. He was also assaulted by another priest when his initial abuser suggested he come to tutoring because his grades were suffering.
Katsch is now speaking out as the leader of the German abuse victims’ group and he told CNN the recently released report uncovered the “absolute bare minimum” of documented abuse cases, which were voluntarily reported to parishes. The study, of course, doesn’t include instances of abuse that might not have ever been reported.
Adding to the controversy, the GBC also pays abuse victims a small lump sum for what they endured. The conference calls it “material benefits for recognition of suffering.” The GBC awards abuse victims “up to 5,000 euros,” which totals about $5,900.
“The church paid me a ‘recognition fee’ of 5,000 euros. They don’t call it compensation, and I don’t call it compensation, either,” Katsch said. “They call it a ‘recognition fee?’ Well, thank you very much, but that’s not what I want. I want justice.”
All of this comes roughly one month after it was revealed Pope Francis allegedly knew, to some extent, about the abuses carried out for years by disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who served as the archbishop of Washington, D.C., from 2001 until 2006.
Just days before that, a Pennsylvania grand jury handed down a devastating report revealing child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years. The analysis covered six of the commonwealth’s eight Catholic diocese and discovered roughly 1,000 victims.