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Pope welcomes German bishops' response to scandal

Catholic World News - March 12, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI met on March 12 with Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, the president of the German bishops' conference, to discuss the burgeoning sex-abuse scandal in that country.

The Pope listened "with keen interest, great sadness, and deep emotion" as the German prelate related the steps that are being taken to respond to the revelations of abuse. "The Holy Father was very satisfied with our decisions," Archbishop Zollitsch told reporters after the meeting.

The German hierarchy has announced that it will report all claims of abuse to law-enforcement officials, unless the victims ask for privacy. The German bishops have commissioned an independent investigation of the more than 100 claims that have already been made, and vowed to cooperate with any government inquiries. "We want to uncover the truth," Archbishop Zollitsch said.

The bishops have applauded the German government's decision to convene a national roundtable on the abuse issue, which will bring together religious leaders, teachers, and abuse victims. Pope Benedict has also indicated his support for the roundtable initiative.

Archbishop Zollitsch said that the German hierarchy had been "deeply shocked" by the revelations about abuse within the Church. He reminded reporters that "a few weeks ago I asked the victims for forgiveness." The archbishop added: "I repeat that again here in Rome."

The German archbishop said that he did not know whether Church leaders in other countries would adopt the same policies to respond to sex-abuse charges. He told reporters that during his conversation with the Pontiff he did not discuss the specific allegations that have emerged from the Regensburg choir school where the Pope's brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, was the director.

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