German bishops commission new sex abuse probe
Berlin: Germany`s Roman Catholic Church today launched a new study into sexual abuse by clergy after a first attempt involving criminologists ended in acrimony last year.
The probe will be carried out by four research institutes, the German Bishops` Conference said, with the aim of shedding light on a scandal that has shaken the Church to its foundations. The Conference`s commissioner for investigating abuse cases, the bishop of the western city of Trier, Stephan Ackermann, said the study sought "clarity and transparency about this dark side of our Church".
He told reporters that the attempt to understand the prevalence of sexual abuse of youths by clergy was "for the sake of the victims but also in order to see the mistakes for ourselves and do everything we can to ensure they are not repeated."
The head of the research consortium, Harald Dressing, said the report would take three and a half years to complete and was budgeted at about one million euros (USD 1.4 million). He said the group aimed to learn whether "specific structures and dynamics" within the Church had fostered sexual abuse.
Dressing added that abuse victims would serve as advisors to the probe, from the development of the inquiry methods to the interpretation of the findings.
The researchers are primarily experts in psychology, criminology and sociology.
Since early 2010 and in common with other countries, Germany has been hit by revelations that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused in Church institutions.
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