Altar boy should strip naked

Altar boy should strip naked

Another victim accuses former Hildesheim bishop Heinrich Maria Janssen of sexual abuse. The man, who is now in his mid-70s, had already contacted Bishop Heiner Wilmer at the beginning of October, the diocese of Hildesheim announced.

In a conversation, the former altar boy then recounted an event in the late 1950s, he said. At that time Bishop Janssen (1907-1988) had asked him to strip naked in front of him. Afterwards he had sent him away with the words that he could not use him. In addition, the man had described further acts of abuse by teachers and clergymen in the former Hildesheim children's homes Bernwardshof and Johannishof.

Engage external experts to provide clarification

"It tears my heart in the face of what the person affected has shared with us," Wilmer said. He announced that external experts would be commissioned to investigate the cases: "We want to know what role Heinrich Maria Janssen actually played in this context," Wilmer said.

He had already spoken last month for an external processing of the abuse cases in his diocese and accused his predecessor Josef Homeyer (1983-2004) of failure and cover-up.

"Many people in our diocese will be shocked, as I was, by the suspicions, especially those who have experienced the bishop as a good pastor," Wilmer added. For this reason, he said, he wanted to shed more light on the darkness through an external reappraisal: "Because I would like to emphasize one thing again: Sexualized violence is not a failure, but a crime. That requires clearing-up, as well as clear and consistent acting from us."

Serious accusations against Bishop Janssen

Janssen was Catholic bishop of Hildesheim from 1957 to 1982 and is the first German bishop to be accused of sexual assault against minors. Already in 2015, among others, a former altar boy had turned to the diocese of Hildesheim and reported that Janssen had sexually abused him between 1958 and 1963. At the beginning of this time, the person concerned had been 10 years old. The diocese paid the man 10.000 euros in recognition of his suffering.

A report published last year by the Munich-based Institute for Practice Research and Project Consulting (IPP) could neither prove nor refute the accusations against Janssen. The authors concluded that the recognition payment was hasty.

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Christina Cherry
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