The German justice decrees provisional prison for a priest accused of sexual abuse of minors due to the risk of reoffending | Society

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Relief of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in a church in Munich (Germany).
Relief of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in a church in Munich (Germany).PHILIPP GUELLAND (EFE)

The district court of Cologne (Germany) has ordered provisional detention for a Catholic priest pending the trial in which he is accused of sexually abusing minors. According to the court, there is a risk that the priest could commit more attacks and, consequently, it has ordered the arrest of the priest. “Due to the large number of possible attacks, some of which could also have occurred in the recent past, the court determined that there was a risk of recidivism,” the body itself explained in a statement. The defendant was taken to a detention center immediately after the hearing.

During the trial sessions, which began to be held in November 2021, testimonies were heard that revealed the existence of more potential victims of the priest, one of whom declared having been abused just two years ago, in 2019. The priest called Hans Ue., according to information given by the court, which has not revealed the full surname, as is customary in German court cases.

The German court’s decision, made on Thursday, follows an independent report detailing hundreds of cases of sexual abuse of minors committed over the past 75 years in the Munich archdiocese. Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich, promised Thursday to learn from the report that paints the German Catholic Church as a place of fear, misery and abuse for hundreds of children. “There was a dark side [en la Iglesia] that has come to light in recent years. This dark side belongs to an honest and realistic look at the Church today,” Marx said at a news conference. “For many people, the Church was a place of misery, a place of fear,” the archbishop added.

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The report, published last week and prepared by the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) law firm, lists a total of 497 cases of sexual abuse of minors that occurred between 1945 and 2019 and were committed by 235 people, including 173 priests. According to experts, 247 victims were men and 182 women. 60% of them were between 8 and 14 years old. About 40 clerics were reinstated in pastoral work after their acts became known, 18 of them even after the corresponding convictions. Despite the high number of victims, lawyer Marion Westpfahl said that the office is convinced that the magnitude of what happened “is much greater.”

The investigations, in addition, indicate that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI covered up four priests who committed sexual abuse during the period in which he served as archbishop in the Archdiocese of Munich, between 1977 and 1982. The document indicated that Joseph Ratzinger “strongly” denied the accusations, although a few days later the pope emeritus acknowledged that he was present at a meeting of the archbishopric in January 1980 in which the transfer of a priest accused of abuse was discussed. Ratzinger thus corrected the statement that he sent to the investigators who made the report, with which the indications that he knew about the cases of pedophilia in the Church and covered them up gained more strength.

The report is one of the latest chapters in a crisis that has shaken the Catholic Church in Germany and other countries in recent years, including Spain, where EL PAÍS’ accounting of cases of abuse in the Church, the only existing in this country in the absence of official data or data from ecclesiastical institutions, already totals more than 1,300 victims in more than 600 cases.

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However, the Spanish Episcopal Conference has always denied knowing how many cases of pederasty there are in Spain and refuses to create an independent commission to review its past. In the same way, he reproached an alleged lack of rigor in the report of this newspaper —which was delivered to the Pope and to the EEC itself— and then distanced himself from the great open investigation, as well as from coordinating the hearing of the more than 250 denouncers of the dossier, which must be addressed to 70 different entities, including dioceses and religious orders, each with highly variable criteria and desire for transparency.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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