Friday, November 26, 2010

German Catholic hotline logs 664 sex molestation cases

A Catholic Church hotline has so far logged 664 complaints of sexual molestation by German clergy and other church officials, bishops said Wednesday. 

The church has been rocked this year by claims that it knowingly covered up paedophile priests. 

Pope Benedict XVI responded with an order to report all sexual advances on children to police.

The German telephone hotline, set up in March, has mainly collected cases that happened too long ago to be now prosecuted. 

More recent cases are being investigated by German police.

The German Bishops' Conference in Bonn said 664 callers told of being molested in a religious setting, for example while attending a church school or living in a church home. 

Of that number, 432 identified the culprit as a priest or other person under vows.

The hotline also counselled 393 callers who said they were molested in a secular setting, for example by their relatives, teachers at public schools or coaches at sports clubs.

A majority of the attacks happened in or before the 1970s, and 84 per cent of callers said the abuse happened repeatedly.

The data covered the work of the hotline till mid-October. 

The counsellors have funding to keep operating till next September.

The church has introduced new rules to catch and stop paedophiles, but is still in talks with the government on financial compensation to victims. 

Germany has 26 million Catholics out of a population of 80 million.