Posts Tagged “regensburg”

Dom RegensburgSeveral years ago, word came out that children had been abused as part of a Catholic choir in Germany, run for a time by the brother of Pope Benedict XVI. It took some time, and a long investigation, but according to Deutsche Welle, the final report reveals more abuse than most had guessed (WebCite cached article):

A total of 547 young boys from the famous Regensburger Domspatzen (“cathedral sparrows”) choir were subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of priests and teachers, according to the attorney tasked with investigating the alleged abuse.

Presenting his 450-page report into the findings, attorney Ulrich Weber, said he found 500 cases of physical abuse and 67 instances of sexual abuse spanning over six decades.

Of the 49 church officials and teachers implicated in the report, nine were found to have been sexually abusive. Church officials had fostered a “culture of silence,” which allowed them to carry out such abuses for decades, Weber said.

Victims described their schooling and choir experience as like “a prison, hell and a concentration camp,” Weber said, adding that many had described those years as “the worst time of their lives, characterized by fear, violence and hopelessness.”

Note that the “culture of silence” is similar to what has been uncovered elsewhere within the Catholic Church. It’s what permitted “priestly pedophilia” to go on, all around the world, for decades.

In this case, for some 30 years (1964 to 1994), Fr Georg Ratzinger, brother of Pope Benedict (aka Joseph Ratzinger), had run the Regensburger Domspatzen. He’s insisted he was unaware of any abuse, although the investigator doesn’t find this plausible. Also, the abuse certainly didn’t begin with Fr Ratzinger; the investigation dates it as far back as 1945.

This report is only part of a larger process, which will include compensation to victims. That’s the least that could be provided. I’d prefer to have seen some contrition on the part of the Regensburg diocese, and an apology at the very least by Fr Ratzinger. Given the most recent abuse uncovered happened in the 1990s, criminal prosecutions may not be possible, but some acknowledgement by Catholic officials is needed.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Pope Benedict XVINot only has the scandal of abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests struck Pope Benedict XVI’s native Germany, as I blogged already, the most recent revelation from Germany has come even closer to the Pope … by surfacing in a cathedral choir which had been run by the Pope’s brother. Reuters reports, via the New York Times, on this development (WebCite cached article):

Germany’s Roman Catholic Church revealed charges of priests beating and sexually abusing boys in at least three schools in Pope Benedict’s native Bavaria on Friday, one linked to a renowned choir once led by his brother.

The charges at the cathedral choir in Regensburg, the Benedictine monastery school at Ettal and a Capucian school in Burghausen came to light after abuse cases revealed at Jesuit schools around the country shocked the country last month.

Rev Georg Ratzinger, 86, who led the choir from 1964 to 1994, told Bavarian Radio he knew nothing of any abuse at the “Regensburger Domspatzen” (Regensburg Cathedral Sparrows) choir, which regularly performs on tours in Germany and abroad.

At this point the Pope’s brother is not implicated in any of the abuse. The Regensburg diocese admitted to some abuse, decades ago, which had been prosecuted:

The diocese said in a statement that one priest had abused two boys sexually in 1958 and was sentenced to two years in jail. Another clergyman served 11 months in jail in 1971 for abuse. Both men have since died.

It said three men claimed to have suffered sexual abuse as well as beatings and humiliation in the early 1960s while at boarding schools connected to the choir. The diocese was investigating these cases and more could be revealed, it said.

My point is that the scandal of long-term abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests has become so epidemic that it has veered uncomfortably close to the Pope himself.

Photo credit: Sergey Gabdurakhmanov.

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