The Archbishop of Freiburg, Stephan Burger, has called for consequences before the publication of a long-announced abuse report. "Anyone who has taken the blame must take responsibility - regardless of post and position," said Burger of the German Press Agency. The processing is important to him personally, "the facts have to be on the table," he added.
The report on how diocesan officials deal with sexual abuse was originally supposed to be made public in October - there is now talk of April. Burger assured that he was on the side of those affected: "The aim is to uncover the earlier cover-up and earlier handling of cases of abuse." Burger is the deputy of the Aachen bishop Helmut Diesen, who is pushing ahead with the investigation of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church for the German Bishops' Conference.
"Clearly identify those responsible"
Dealing with past abuse crimes is an "absolutely central concern," said Burger: "We bishops are serious about these issues, we want - as far as possible - to achieve justice for those affected and clearly name those responsible. The believers too rightly expect that from us."
The former Archbishop of Freiburg and chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Robert Zollitsch (84), admitted misconduct in dealing with allegations of abuse in October and apologized. An advisory board of those affected then criticized Zollitsch's statements. Child sexual abuse has rocked the Catholic Church for over a decade. It was common practice for decades to simply transfer priests who had sexually abused children to the next parish
190 accused, most of them priests
The report for the Archdiocese of Freiburg is created by the so-called AG Aktenanalyse. Four external experts from the judiciary and criminal police are investigating, among other things, which structures have made cover-up and abuse possible in the past. Research on the basis of personal files after sexual abuse had previously brought shocking things to light: from the beginning of 1946 to the end of 2015, 190 suspects were discovered, most of them priests, and at least 442 victims. There have already been similar reports in other dioceses, for example in Cologne and Munich.
Burger said a lot has already changed in the church. "We have trained thousands of employees and volunteers in the field of prevention, there are strict regulations and controls. The church must be a safe space for everyone," demanded the 60-year-old. With around 1.8 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau is one of the largest of the 27 dioceses in Germany.