A report commissioned by the Jesuit order says it has discovered hundreds of cases of sexual and physical abuse in Jesuit-run German institutions over the past few decades, as well as a culture of cover-ups.
Some 46 priests and educators were accused in the report
A months-long investigation into Jesuit-run schools in Germany concluded Thursday that at least 205 former students suffered various forms of abuse at the schools, part of a systematic cycle of abuse and cover-up by Jesuit officials.
The report's lead investigator, Ursula Raue, said that the number of victims was likely higher, and that "we cannot expect to have heard everything yet."
Germany's leading Jesuit official Father Stefan Dartmann said in a statement that he was sorry for the abuse and cover-up, and asked for forgiveness.
"In the name of the order, I acknowledge with shame and guilt our failure," he said. "There was a widespread mentality in the order, and perhaps still is, that the primary concern was the reputation of the institution and its fellow brothers."
Culture of complicity
Raue, left, was commissioned by Jesuit officials
The report was commissioned by the Jesuit order in January after abuse allegations surfaced at Berlin's Canisius Kolleg, setting off a string of further abuse scandals at other, mostly Catholic schools in Germany.
According to Raue, about 46 Jesuit priests and non-clerical school employees have been accused of abusing students or knowing of the abuse and not acting on it.
In the course of her investigation, Raue said she also encountered cases of mistreatment at some 50 other non-Jesuit, mostly Catholic institutions.
Almost all of the abuse cases are too old to be prosecuted in Germany, and Raue said lawmakers should re-examine the statue of limitations on such cases, currently between 10 and 20 years.
She also charged the Jesuit order with being complicit in the abuse, saying many cases church officials knew of the abuse and did little or nothing to stop it.
Editor: Rob Turner