3,677 sex abuse cases in German Catholic Church

Germany's Catholic Church 'dismayed and ashamed' by child sex abuse

The German study examined more than 38,000 personnel and reference files from 27 dioceses around the country and showed that more than half of the victims were aged at most 13 years old at the time of the crime, Spiegel reported. Its authors said the true extent of the abuse may be even greater, as some records were "destroyed or manipulated".

A Church spokesman said it was "dismayed and ashamed" by the findings. The mass aims to "give voice to the pain and suffering of the survivors of clergy sexual abuse and failures in episcopal oversight, while also recognizing the pain and wound of the whole Church", he wrote.

The universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim were involved in the four-year research, which implicated 1,670 priests in sexual abuse from 1946 to 2014, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday, according to the news outlet Deutsche Welle.

The Church had often transferred clerics accused of sexual abuse without providing the new host community with "appropriate information" about them, the study found.

Asked about the report, a spokesman for the Bishops' Conference told Reuters: "We are checking the matter".

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

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In 2010, the German church was roiled by a sex abuse scandal triggered by the head of a Jesuit school in Berlin who went public about decades-long sexual abuse of high school students by clergy.

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. The German Bishops' Conference commissioned the "strictly confidential" study and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, its chairman, is expected to present its findings later this month, Spiegel said. He said the Church had planned to provide counselling helplines for people affected by its contents.

Also on Wednesday, the Vatican said it's summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children.

The Kentucky Attorney General wants to launch a criminal probe into allegations of Catholic clerical sex abuse.

Last month, a USA grand jury released study findings showing 301 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania had sexually abused minors over 70 years.

Earlier this week, the Vatican said it is preparing the "necessary clarifications" about accusations that top Vatican officials - including Pope Francis himself - covered up the sexual misconduct of the now-disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the US.

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