False Churches, False Brethren, False Gospels
Pope archdiocese faces 'tsunami' of abuse claims
The head of new taskforce set up to deal with sex abuse by Roman
Catholic priests in the Pope's former archdiocese in Germany said the
group had been overwhelmed by a "tsunami" of claims.
By Nick Squires in Rome
Published: 4:59PM GMT 19 Mar 2010
New reports have emerged almost daily of sex abuse cases involving
Catholic clergy in several European countries. The spreading
controversy threatens to overshadow a letter the Pope is expected to
release on Saturday about the scandals that wracked Ireland.
Fresh claims emerged that Benedict XVI failed to do enough to safeguard
children from paedophile priests when, as Joseph Ratzinger, he was the
archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.
"It's like a tsunami," said Elke Huemmeler, the head of the diocese's
newly established Task Force on Sexual Abuse Prevention, the first of
its kind in the German Catholic Church.
The body, which started work yesterday, will review about 120 cases of
alleged sexual abuse – among the 300 reported across Germany since
Around 100 of the claims involve a boarding school run by Benedictine
monks at Ettal, in the foothills of the Alps in southern Bavaria.
"It is all really terrible, but we are going to listen to everything,"
said Mrs Huemmeler.
A pastoral letter from the Pope to the people of Ireland, addressing
the paedophile priest scandal that has shocked Irish Catholics.
The most damaging revelation that Pope Benedict has yet is faced is
that he allowed a priest accused of molesting an 11-year-old boy to be
moved from another diocese in order to undergo "therapy" in 1980. The
priest, Peter Hullermann, 62, was later released back into the
community and was convicted of child sex abuse and given an 18 month
suspended sentence in 1986.
The Vatican has insisted that by that time the future Pope had moved to
Rome to take up a new appointment, but a member of the diocese said
that he and colleagues should have been informed by him that Hullermann
was an offender.
"We should have known," said Erwin Wild, the then spokesman of the
diocese's council of priests.
The psychiatrist who treated Hullermann said the Church ignored
repeated warnings that the cleric should not be allowed to have any
dealings with minors.
"I said, for God's sake, he desperately has to be kept away from
working with children," Dr Werner Huth told the New York Times.
Despite his conviction, Father Hullermann was allowed to resume his
pastoral duties and was only suspended from his duties this week.
The sex abuse scandal, which has also swept through the Netherlands,
Austria and Switzerland, reached Italy this week.
The bishop of Bolzano, in northern Italy, asked forgiveness from the
growing number of people in his diocese who have come forward in the
last 10 days saying they were abused in religious institutions in the
Bishop Karl Golser, whose diocese is in a largely German-speaking
province on the border with Austria, expressed his "sincere regret" to
the victims and said he would forward abuse claims to Italian