Germany’s justice minister accused the Vatican today of covering up severe sexual abuse in the Church after fresh reports surfaced at three Catholic schools in Bavaria.
Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger called the developments “frightening” after the cathedral choir in Regensburg, the Benedictine monastery school at Ettal and a Capucian school in Burghausen revealed new cases of sexual and physical abuse.
The revelations followed reports last month that Catholic priests had sexually abused over 100 children at Jesuit schools around Germany, which led to a public apology from Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Bishops Conference.
“In many schools there was a wall of silence allowing for abuse and violence,” Ms Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a secular liberal politician who has been the government’s leading critic of the Church, told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio.
“Even the most severe cases of abuse are subject only to papal secrecy and should not be disclosed outside the Church,” she said, citing a 2001 Catholic congregation directive.
Church officials rejected her charges. Bishop Stephan Ackermann, who speaks for the Church on abuse matters, called the minister’s comments “absurd”.
“Our guidelines insist that we involve state prosecutors,” he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.