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  Abuse in the Catholic Church

  18 Debates

According to a study by an independent team of historians from the University of Zurich, since the 1950s there have been at least 1002 cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Switzerland. The historians had been given access to confidential files from the church's archives for the first time. What can be done to put an end to such mistreatment?

Just over a year after it began its work, an independent commission set up to investigate sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church in Portugal has presented its final report. According to the report, at least 5,000 children were abused over a period of around 70 years. Portuguese media discuss the consequences for the Church.

The Catholic Church has been hit by a massive scandal in Portugal: an independent commission has gathered more than 400 testimonies of sex abuse which will be passed on to public prosecutors. Leading Portuguese bishops have apparently known about the crimes for years, but none has admitted any guilt so far. The national press voices outrage.

After a long silence Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has reacted to the incriminating report on cases of sexual abuse against children in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. He wrote a letter asking the victims for forgiveness. At the same time he firmly rejects accusations of having covered up the affair. The press is divided: is this a sincere apology or out of touch with reality?

Four years after the newspaper El País handed over a dossier containing 251 unpublished cases of sexualised violence against children by Church employees to the Pope and the President of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, the Spanish parliament has agreed to consider setting up an inquiry into the claims of abuse. The Congress of Deputies approved a petition to this effect. The national press reflects a turbulent debate.

A 1,900-page expert report on abuse in the Catholic archdiocese of Munich and Freising heavily incriminates Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Benedict, who was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982, is said to have taken no action against clergy accused of sexually abusing minors in four cases. He rejects all accusations.

The Bishops' Conference of France that met in Lourdes this autumn has decided to set up working groups to combat systemic abuse and sexual violence by the clergy. The Church also committed to creating a reparations body to compensate victims, involving the sale of some of its real estate assets. Commentators are impressed.

Over the past 70 years roughly 330,000 children have been victims of sexual abuse within the French Catholic Church, according to a report compiled by an independent commission of inquiry over two and a half years. Europe's media discuss what changes are needed after the shocking revelations.

Pope Francis has abolished the "pontifical secret" rule in cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The rule of secrecy applied equally to perpetrators and victims. Statements given in church trials can now be passed on to civil authorities. Europe's press praises the measure as an important step and discusses the far-reaching consequences.

Joseph Ratzinger has written an essay in which he blames the ideology of the sexual revolution in the 1960s and sex education classes for sex abuse. It was during his time as Pope Benedict that it became known that thousands of children worldwide had been abused by members of the clergy. Why is he speaking out on this subject now?

At the end of the four-day summit in the Vatican Pope Francis demanded an end to cover-ups and harshly condemned the sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy. Victim associations are voicing disappointment with the results of the meeting of almost 200 clergymen. A look at the commentary columns shows how divided opinions are on the historical summit.

A study commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference and published on Tuesday sheds light on the extent of sexual abuse in the German Catholic Church. At least 1,670 priests sexually abused children and youths between 1946 and 2014, according to the report. Commentators outline how the Church should tackle the situation.

Ahead of his trip to Ireland Pope Francis has called for "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. In a letter to believers around the world he described it as a crime, demanded investigations and condemned what he described as an "abnormal understanding of authority in the Church". Will his words change anything?

The controversial film Kler premiered in Polish cinemas on the weekend. It portrays child abuse in the Catholic Church and the entanglement between the Church and politics. According to reports in the media some towns want to ban the film from being shown in their cinemas and the ruling PiS has harshly criticised it. What has provoked the outcry, and is it justified?

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has accused Pope Francis in a letter of having covered up allegations of abuse against the former archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick to protect the "gay lobby" in the Vatican. Just before Viganò made his accusations the Pope had harshly condemned the cases of abuse within the Catholic Church. Criticism of the Pope and the Church should not go too far, commentators warn.

Pope Francis condemned the mistreatment and abuse of children and women by members of the Catholic Church during his visit to Ireland on the weekend. For many victims, however, his apology didn't go far enough. Commentators demand thorough investigations and call on the Church to spearhead social change.

Investigators have discovered the remains of hundreds of foetuses, babies and young children at the site of a care home for unmarried mothers and their children run by the Catholic Church until 1961 in the town of Tuam in Ireland. Until as recently as the 1990s, unmarried pregnant women were often sent to such homes where they often had to carry out forced labour. Child mortality rates at such institutions were disproportionately high, according to media reports. How should the Church and society react?