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Europe

Catholic leader issues fresh apology for paedophile scandal

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-13

The head of Germany's Roman Catholic Church issued a new apology to victims of paedophile priests as he met Pope Benedict XVI Friday. He also announced the creation of a watchdog to deal with the matter.

AFP - The head of Germany's Roman Catholic Church issued a new apology to victims of paedophile priests as he met the pope Friday and announced the creation of a watchdog to deal with the abuse issue.
  
"I want to repeat here in Rome the apology that I made two weeks ago," Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg told a news conference in the Vatican after meeting Pope Benedict XVI.
  
Zollitsch said the pope had praised "the steps taken by the German Bishops Conference (including) the naming of a bishop as a special counsel" who would act as a watchdog on the issue of the sexual abuse of children.
  
Paedophile priest scandals have swept Germany since late January, one coming close to the pontiff's brother Georg Ratzinger, a former choirmaster.
  
On February 22, Zollitsch said he was "deeply shocked" by the scandals and asked for victims' forgiveness.
  
"Sexual abuse of minors is always a heinous crime. I want to associate myself with this statement from Pope Benedict and apologise to all those who were a victim of such crimes," he said then.
  
The tidal wave of scandals over predator priests and teachers has now engulfed 19 of Germany's 27 dioceses and are among several to have rocked the Catholic Church lately, notably in Ireland last year, and now Austria and The Netherlands as well.
  
Germany's shock revelations began in late January when an elite Jesuit school in Berlin admitted systematic sexual abuse of pupils by two priests in the 1970s and 1980s.
  
Among other boarding schools implicated is one attached to the Domspatzen ("Cathedral Sparrows"), Regensburg cathedral's thousand-year-old choir which was run for 30 years by Georg Ratzinger.
  
On Tuesday Ratzinger, 86, said that the alleged sexual abuse in the 1950s and 1960s -- before his time -- was "never discussed".
  
The German government spoke out on the scandal, with Education Minister Annette Schavan saying there should be "zero tolerance" of the sexual abuse of children.
  
The Church has promised to shed light on all allegations, even those that are decades old.
  
 

Date created : 2010-03-12

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