25 Nov 2010

German Catholic abuse scandal widens, now includes famous boys' choir school

The Local Germany - March 5, 2010

Catholic abuse scandal hits famous boys' choir

The child sexual abuse scandal in Germany’s Catholic Church continued to spread on Friday as a spokesperson confirmed abuse at Regensburg’s cathedral school for their famous boys' choir, the Domspatzen.

Victims of have come forward to report abuse at the institution, and the two men, who both died in 1984, will still be charged with their crimes, the diocese spokesperson said.

One suspect, who was a religion teacher and the institution’s assistant leader, was removed from service in 1958. The other man was reportedly censured in 1971.

“We want to investigate with transparency,” the spokesperson said.

The diocese said it planned to create a commission to study the school’s old files and archives between 1958 and 1973, when the abuse is thought to have occurred.

On Thursday Bavarian police also raided the Ettal monastery, which runs a Catholic boarding school, on suspicion of child pornography. According to daily Münchner Merkur, a monk there has admitted to uploading such material to the internet. The monastery also admitted to at least two cases of sexual abuse.

The scandal was revealed in late January when Berlin’s prestigious Canisius school announced that around 50 former students had claimed they were sexually abused by priests. Since then lawyers for victims have said more than 120 people across the country have come forward with allegations of abuse by up to 12 different priests and teachers at other Catholic institutions. So far 18 of 27 dioceses have been affected.

The country’s top Catholic bishop Robert Zollitsch, who issued a public apology in late February, is schedules to meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in one week to discuss the scandal.

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Google News - Associated Press March 5, 2010

Prominent German boys' choir faces abuse claims


BERLIN — An ever-widening sexual abuse scandal involving Germany's Roman Catholic Church spilled into the heart of Pope Benedict XVI's homeland Friday when a former member of the prominent Regensburg boy's choir claimed he was a victim.

A former singer came forward with allegations church employees had sexually abused him in the early 1960s, said Clemens Neck, a spokesman for the Regensburg Diocese which oversees the school connected to the renowned Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir.

Neck gave no details on the extent of the abuse, but said it happened before the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, the pope's brother, took over the choir in 1964. Ratzinger led the choir, comprised of around 500 boys and young men, until his retirement in 1994.

Ratzinger told public radio Bayerischer Rundfunk on Friday he did not know of any abuse cases at the choir and another spokesman for the diocese, Jakob Schoetz, said the known cases of abuse did not happen during Ratzinger's tenure.

"The cases that are known to us at this time did not take place during his tenure," Schoetz wrote.

The allegations by the former Domspatzen singer are part of a spiraling scandal that has grown from the claims of seven former pupils at a Catholic-run Berlin high school to more than 170 ex-students from several of the church's most prominent educational facilities in Germany, including the high school connected to the Domspatzen and the Ettal Monastery boarding school — both in the pope's home region of Bavaria.

From 1969 to 1977 the pope, then Joseph Ratzinger, taught theology at the University of Regensburg.

On Friday, the Regensburg Diocese announced it was hiring a lawyer to help it carry out a "systematic" clarification of the abuse allegations that currently range from 1958 to 1973.

"We call on all victims to contact our representative for sexual abuse cases," the dioceses said. "We would like to encourage people to come, to give a name to their suffering and, through this, to ease and eliminate the pain."

The diocese said it was seeking information regarding a report of a priest who taught religion at the high school for the Domspaten from 1953 to 1958 and was convicted of sexually abusing two students during that time. He served a two-year prison sentence for the abuse, the diocese said.

It also has leads on at least two other instances of sexual and phyiscal abuse at schools in Etterzhausen and Weiden — both in the 1960s — as well as three other cases at music schools that train boys who go on to sing in with the Domspatzen.

On Thursday, the Ettal Monastery boarding school said the Vatican had confirmed it would send an inspector to look into accusations of sexual abuse made by 20 alumni of the school.

Munich prosecutors last week opened an investigation into allegations of abuse against one member of the Benedictine-run school. The second priest who accused of sexual abuse has since died.

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New revelations of child abuse by Roman Catholic priests at German high schools are surfacing almost daily



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