Exposing structures

Exposing structures

Symbolic image: Lawyer sorts files © Mikhail Petrov (shutterstock)

Now the archdiocese of Berlin is following suit: Following in the footsteps of other Catholic dioceses, the Archdiocese of Berlin will next week present an expert report on cases of sexual abuse by pastors in its area since 1946.

These are the results of an investigation by lawyers Sabine Wildfeuer and Peter-Andreas Brand of the law firm Redeker Sellner Dahs, as the archdiocese announced on Friday. The report is due on 29. January are presented.

According to the archdiocese, the law firm commissioned "to work through the incidents as well as the handling of them within the archdiocese on the basis of the available files". The aim is to "uncover structures that have enabled or facilitated sexual abuse within the archdiocese in the past and have made it more difficult to clarify and punish".

In addition, it is to be examined "to what extent – independently of the proceedings of the state judicial authorities – ecclesiastical criminal proceedings have taken place or still have to be initiated".

The archdiocese had commissioned the chancery in November 2018 to review the "suspicious circumstances" among priests, deacons and male religious in the area of the archdiocese that had become known in the MHG study.

Commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference, the study by researchers from Mannheim, Heidelberg and Giessen (MHG) for the period from 1946 to 2014 had 3.677 victims of sexual assault by at least 1.670 priests and religious investigated. Experts say the numbers capture only a portion of the cases.

Last statistics from the year 2019

According to the latest statistics of the Archdiocese of Berlin on this subject for the time being, there were a total of 86 reports of allegations of sexual abuse or sexual assault by March 2019. According to this, 55 clergymen have been accused up to this point, and criminal investigations have been initiated against 24 of them during their lifetime. 33 accused priests had already died by March 2019, according to the report.

According to the archdiocese, not all of the suspected cases that came to light involved crimes. The allegations include both transgressions below the threshold of punishability and cases of serious abuse. In some cases, a suspected case had been reported in relation to one clergy member; in others, multiple victims had come forward in relation to the same defendant.

The archdiocese of Berlin has about 400.000 Catholics in Berlin, parts of Brandenburg and Western Pomerania at.

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Christina Cherry
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