547 boys were abused at Ger­man Catholic choir school: In­ves­ti­ga­tor

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

At least 547 boys at a Ger­man Catholic choir school suf­fered sex­ual or phys­i­cal abuse in what vic­tims have likened to “prison, hell or a con­cen­tra­tion camp”, said an in­ves­ti­ga­tor re­leas­ing a fi­nal re­port yes­ter­day on one of the coun­try’s worst such scan­dals. The Re­gens­burger Domspatzen (“Cathe­dral Spar­rows”), a 1,000-year-old cathe­dral choir in the south­ern state of Bavaria, was in 2010 dragged into the mas­sive sex­ual abuse and pae­dophilia scan­dal plagu­ing the Catholic Church around the world.

Many vic­tims re­mem­bered the world-fa­mous choir school in the town of Re­gens­burg as “the worst time of their lives, marked by fear, vi­o­lence and help­less­ness”, said lawyer Ul­rich We­ber, who was com­mis­sioned two years ago by the dio­cese to look into the cases. Pre­sent­ing his fi­nal re­port on abuses be­tween 1945 and the early 1990s, We­ber said he had un­cov­ered 67 cases of sex­ual abuse and 500 cases of other phys­i­cal vi­o­lence, with some for­mer singers hav­ing fallen vic­tim to both.

Rape, se­vere beat­ings

This more than dou­bled the 231 re­ported abuse cases by school clergy and ed­u­ca­tors We­ber had un­cov­ered through in­ter­views by Jan­uary 2016, when he said vic­tims had spo­ken of rape, sex­ual as­saults, se­vere beat­ings and food de­pri­va­tion. We­ber, who was not able to speak with all for­mer stu­dents, said he es­ti­mated the true num­ber of vic­tims at around 700.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tor pointed to a “cul­ture of si­lence” that aimed to pro­tect the rep­u­ta­tion of the renowned choir of boys and young men that has made many record­ings and per­formed around the world. He placed part of the blame for the sit­u­a­tion on the school’s for­mer choir master Ge­org Ratzinger, the el­der brother of for­mer pope Bene­dict XVI.

As head of the choir from 1964 to 1994, Ge­org Ratzinger could be “blamed for look­ing the other way and fail­ing to in­ter­vene” on the phys­i­cal vi­o­lence, said We­ber, who added there was no ev­i­dence Ratzinger knew of the sex­ual vi­o­lence. Ratzinger, 93, has de­nied knowl­edge and said that the al­leged sex­ual abuse was “never dis­cussed” while he ran the choir. We­ber also charged that the Re­gens­burg car­di­nal, Ger­hard Lud­wig Mueller, had failed to suf­fi­ciently clear up the decades of abuse or en­gage in di­a­logue with the vic­tims.

‘All made mis­takes’

We­ber said the at­tacks were con­cen­trated in the board­ing schools’ pri­mary sec­tion, but also oc­curred in the sec­ondary sec­tion. He said that 49 al­leged per­pe­tra­tors had been iden­ti­fied, but that they were not ex­pected to face crim­i­nal charges as the al­leged crimes took place too long ago.

The known vic­tims are now ex­pected to re­ceive 20,000 eu­ros ($23,000) each in com­pen­sa­tion. The dio­cese apol­o­gized in a state­ment and said that “we all made mis­takes and we have learnt a lot”. We­ber agreed in a press con­fer­ence that the dio­cese had rec­ti­fied or­ga­ni­za­tional weak­nesses, and that there was a “height­ened aware­ness” about the past abuses.

The abuse scan­dal is one of sev­eral to have rocked the Catholic Church in re­cent years, notably in Ire­land where one priest ad­mit­ted sex­u­ally abus­ing more than 100 chil­dren. Sev­eral Ger­man in­sti­tu­tions have also been en­gulfed by the scan­dal, in­clud­ing an elite Je­suit school in Ber­lin which ad­mit­ted to sys­tem­atic sex­ual abuse of pupils by two priests in the 1970s and 1980s. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.