The Roman Catholic
Church in Germany has
independent inquiry it
sexual abuse by clergy,
citing a breakdown in
It said that bishops’
trust in Prof Christian
Pfeiffer, head of the
Criminological Research Institute, had been “destroyed”.
Prof Pfeiffer accused the Church of obstructing his team’s
work by seeking to control the investigation.
The Church said a new inquiry would be commissioned with a
Bishops approached the institute in 2011 after a wave of
revelations about sexual abuse broke and tens of thousands of
Catholics deserted the Church.
Hundreds of people had come forward to say they were
abused as minors between the 1950s and 1980s, amid
suspicion the crimes were concealed.
Pope Benedict XVI, the German-born head of the Catholic
Church, met victims when he visited Germany in 2011, and
abuse survivors have been offered financial compensation.
Prof Pfeiffer went public about his concerns, telling German
media that Church officials had hampered his team’s research
efforts by continually intervening.
Speaking to the German national broadcaster ZDF, he accused
the Church of seeking to censor the research and trying to
dictate the make-up of his team.
“We were meant to submit everything for approval,” the
His team consisted of retired prosecutors and judges and was
allowed access to personnel records on Church employees
going back more than a decade, the German broadcaster
Deutsche Welle reports.
The German Bishops’ Conference announced that it had ended
its co-operation with Prof Pfeiffer’s institute.
“The relationship of mutual trust between the bishops and the
head of the institute has been destroyed,” the Bishop of
Trier, Stephan Ackermann, said.
“Trust is vital for such an extensive project dealing with such
a sensitive issue.”
About 34% of Germans are officially Roman Catholic,
according to recent figures