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German bishops apologize to abuse victims as justice minister urges cooperation

Catholic World News - February 23, 2010

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg im Breisgau, the head of the German bishops’ conference, has apologized to abuse victims in the wake of a scandal centered on a Jesuit school in Berlin, where two priests systematically abused children in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout the nation, 120 former students have alleged they were abused at seven schools.

“Sexual abuse of minors is always a heinous crime,” said Archbishop Zollitsch. I want to associate myself with this statement from Pope Benedict and apologize to all those who were victims of such crimes.”

“Abuse weighs heavily on the Church because children and young people have a particular trust in priests,” he added. “There should be no abuse, especially not in the Church.”

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, the nation’s justice minister, called for a meeting between victims, bishops, and state government representatives to discuss the voluntary compensation of victims, most of whom have no judicial recourse because of the expiration of the statute of limitations.

“I expect concrete information from the Catholic Church on measures taken for a complete clarification,” she siad.

Ms. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also criticized Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg after he partly attributed the abuse to the sexual revolution.

Bishop Mixa, who also serves as the nation’s military bishop, is “hiding behind polemic excuses instead of contributing to clearing up” the crisis, the nation’s justice minister said.

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