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German bishops drop support for independent sex-abuse study

Catholic World News - January 09, 2013

The Catholic bishops of Germany have withdrawn their support from an independent inquiry into sex-abuse complaints, citing a breakdown in mutual trust.

In 2011 the Germany hierarchy commissioned a study by Christian Pfeiffer of the Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute. The study was to examine the Church’s response to sex-abuse complaints over the past 50 or more years. But after a series of disagreements about the handling of information, the bishops have dropped their sponsorship.

"The relationship of mutual trust between the bishops and the head of the institute has been destroyed," said Bishop, Stephan Ackermann of Trier. Without a relationship of trust, he said, it would be impossible to continue sharing sensitive material.

Pfeiffer complained that the diocesan officials had resisted inquiries about sex-abuse cases, and the bishops’ conference had sought the right to screen his reports prior to publication. He said he would not agree to censorship.

The German bishops have indicated that they may seek another independent investigator to undertake a study of sex-abuse cases.

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