Children faced abuse in German diocese: report

314 fell victims between 1975 and 2018

March 19, 2021 03:45 am | Updated 03:45 am IST - Berlin

An independent study commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church released on Thursday has uncovered hundreds of cases of sexual violence allegedly committed by clergy and laymen in Germany’s top diocese.

The long-awaited 800-page report on the Cologne diocese found 202 alleged perpetrators of sexual assault and 314 victims between 1975 and 2018, Bjoern Gercke, a lawyer mandated by the Church, told reporters.

“More than half of the victims were children under the age of 14,” Mr. Gercke said.

The findings show “that for decades, apparently no one dared to report such cases”.

However, the investigation cleared Cologne’s Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki of breach of duty over the abuse. He had faced months of protests for refusing to allow the publication of an earlier study on abuse committed by priests in his diocese.

Most of the allegations cover the tenure of Archbishop Woelki’s predecessor, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, who died in 2017.

He had justified his decision citing a right to privacy for those accused in the report.

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