“We have nothing to hide”

The new bishop of Hildesheim, Heiner Wilmer, wants to open the files to a large extent for the clarification of abuse cases in his diocese, also for outsiders. There is no other way for the church to regain credibility and trust, he said.

'I'm in favor of an open approach'. 'We have nothing to hide,' Wilmer told Lower Saxony political journal Rundblick. The bishop is currently taking advice on what an opening of the records might look like, the paper quoted a spokesman as saying.

Most recently, Lower Saxony's Justice Minister Barbara Havliza (CDU) called on the Catholic Church to allow prosecutors to see its records. She expects from the dioceses "a good and constructive cooperation with the judiciary," she told the "Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung". The clarification of accusations in the room is the task of the judiciary and not of the church.

Criticism of the FDP

Stefan Birkner, head of Lower Saxony's FDP parliamentary group, had criticized the state government for being too cautious with the Catholic Church on the ie of sexual abuse.

"There is neither legally nor politically a reason for restraint – in my opinion, the public prosecutors would have to take action and seize files that the church does not release," the politician told the "Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung".

Study: more than 150 people affected in the diocese of Hildesheim

At the end of September, the German Bishops' Conference had presented the results of a study it had commissioned on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The paper lists at least 153 affected persons and 46 accused priests in the diocese of Hildesheim in the past decades.

36 of the alleged perpetrators are reported to have died. According to the diocese, ecclesiastical sanctions have been imposed on the ten clergy members who are still alive, and criminal charges have been filed in some cases.

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Christina Cherry
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