Catholic priests in Germany 'abused thousands of children'

A leaked report in Germany has revealed that more than 3600 children were sexually assaulted over the past 70 years.Germany's Catholic Church said Wednesday it was "dismayed and ashamed" by decades of child sex abuse by priests after a report was leaked showing that thousands of minors were assaulted.

The study, commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference, was due to be presented officially on September 25, but several local media published key conclusions, including the damning finding that more than 3,600 children were sexually assaulted by priests in Germany over nearly seven decades.

Authors of the study also warned that the true scale of the abuse may be greater as some documents were "destroyed or manipulated".

"We know the extent of the sexual abuse that has been demonstrated by the study. We are dismayed and ashamed by it," said Bishop Stephan Ackermann on behalf of the conference.

The bishop of Trier, Stephan AckermannThe bishop of Trier, Stephan Ackermann

The aim of the study is to shed light on "this dark side of our Church, for the sake of those affected, but also for us ourselves to see the errors and to do everything to prevent them from being repeated."

"I stress that the study is a measure that we owe not only to the Church but first and foremost, to those affected."

The report deals another blow to the Church after clerical child abuse has been uncovered worldwide.

According to the study, 1,670 clergymen in Germany committed some form of sexual attack against 3,677 minors between 1946 and 2014, Spiegel Online reported. Most of the victims were boys.

More than half were 13 years old or younger at the time of the abuse, the study concluded after examining 38,000 documents from 27 German dioceses.


The research also uncovered impunity, with official documents manipulated or simply shredded.

Predator priests were often transferred to another location, but information on their criminal history were not provided to the new site.

Only one in three (566 out of 1,670 accused) were subject to disciplinary hearings by the Church, and most got away with minimal punishment, said Die Zeit weekly, also citing the report. 

Of these, 154 cases ended with no penalty, while 103 closed with a warning.

Only 38 per cent of the accused were prosecuted by civil courts -- on complaints lodged by victims themselves or their families.

Ackermann meanwhile voiced frustration that the report was leaked to the media before the Church itself had looked at it.

The Church had planned to offer counselling helplines around the official publication date of the report for people who are affected by it, he said.

Over the last decade, several German Catholic institutions have revealed cases of child sexual abuse, including an elite Jesuit school in Berlin which admitted to systematic sexual abuse of pupils by two priests in the 1970s and 1980s.

Last year, a world-famous Catholic choir school in Germany, the Regensburger Domspatzen school, revealed that more than 500 boys there suffered sexual or physical abuse in what victims have likened to "prison, hell or a concentration camp".

Pope Francis has also found himself embroiled in the worldwide sex abuse scandal after conservative US Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano last month claimed the pontiff had personally ignored abuse allegations against prominent US cardinal Theodore McCarrick for five years.

Francis has so far refused to respond to the allegations.


By SBS News

SBS was founded on the belief that all Australians, regardless of geography, age, cultural background or language skills should have access to high quality, independent, culturally-relevant Australian media.

The multiple language programs available through SBS TV, radio and online ensure that all Australians are able to share in the experiences of others, and participate in public life. The quality of our programs and the multiplicity of our viewpoints come from the freedom we have to draw on the best of all cultures for our programming.

Currently, SBS reaches an average audience of 13.1 million people per month on television, and on average serves almost 7 million unique browsers each month online, including an average 1.3 million streams each month for radio.

SBS On Demand's distinctive streaming service is available on more platforms and devices than any other Australian broadcaster's service, and includes over 6000 hours of programs, with 900 movies of which 70% are in languages other than English.

The Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991

SBS operates under the SBS Act 1991 and has a Board of Directors appointed by the Federal Government. Responsibility for SBS lies within the portfolio of the Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator the Honourable Mitch Fifield.

The SBS Act provides us with editorial independence from government and our Charter (section 6 of the Act) sets out our principle function 'to provide multilingual and multicultural radio, television and digital media services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society'.

SBS Charter

Our Charter ensures a commitment to Australians and to making a difference; beyond that, our purpose is to inspire all Australians to explore, appreciate and celebrate our diverse world, and in doing so, contribute to a cohesive society. Read the SBS Charter.

Visit our policies and guidelines which outline the policies followed by SBS in fulfilling its Charter, including information about the SBS Codes of Practice.

Our offering

SBS operates six free-to-air TV channels (SBS, SBS HD, SBS VICELAND, SBS VICELAND HD, Food Network and NITV), eight radio stations (SBS Radio 1, 2 and 3, SBS Radio 4, SBS Arabic 24 including PopAraby, SBS PopDesi, SBS Chill and SBS PopAsia) and World Movies, a subscription TV channel. SBS Online provides audio streaming of all of our language programs and is home to SBS On Demand video streaming service. In Australia SBS is one of five main free-to-air networks.

SBS On Demand is a world of inspired entertainment – a curated selection of premium drama, documentaries and movies from across the world, available anytime, anywhere and absolutely free. With over 6,000 hours of programming and instant catch-up of your favourite SBS programs, SBS On Demand has something for everyone. SBS TV is watched by more than 13 million Australians each month. SBS Radio is the world's most linguistically diverse radio network, broadcasting in over 70 language programs to a potential audience of more than three million Australians who speak a language other than English in their homes. SBS Online continues to grow and on average serves almost 7 million unique browsers each month.

(Source:; September 13, 2018;
Back to INF

Loading please wait...