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Ettal monastery
Abuse took place at the monastery's boarding schoolImage: AP

Forgive us our sins

February 17, 2011

A year after abuse allegations at a Catholic boarding school in Bavaria came to light, a report on the abuse has been presented and the school says it will establish a compensation fund for the victims.


The Bavarian monastery in the town of Ettal, one of many Catholic institutions at the center of a number of sexual abuse scandals in Germany, said on Thursday that it would create a 500,000-euro fund to compensate victims who were abused at its boarding school.

The fund would come from a sell-off of properties belonging to the monastery, which leading abbot Barnabas Bögle said "will not come easily, but it must be done."

"We must take the necessary steps to show that we are sorry," Bögle said.

The announcement of the fund emerged from a report on the abuse, presented by former constitutional court judge Hans-Joachim Jentsch on Thursday.

'Unimaginable' conditions

Priest standing with red book
The report said students were subject to 'unimaginable' conditionsImage: picture-alliance / ANP

Jentsch collected 94 reports and letters from former students at the Ettal boarding school and their relatives. The report said the abuse occurred from the 1950s into the 1980s, and that the students worked and lived under conditions that "are unimaginable today."

The report said one priest unnecessarily or violently forced a rectal thermometer into some students, while one educator at the school sent love letters to a student's house and tried to convince him to go on vacation with him.

The Fathers at the school often had to teach classes of up to 74 students, according to the report, and there were dormitories for up to 16 students and almost no private spaces into which they could withdraw. However this is no excuse for the abuse that took place, Jentsch said.

Apart from the compensation fund, the monastery said it would create a "symbol of remembrance" that would remind people of the abuse. The Munich-based research institution IPP is also to compile a report on the issue.

The abuse at Ettal and several other Catholic institutions in Germany came to light early last year. The former head of the monastery's school, Maurus Krass, resigned a year ago for not relaying the abuse allegations to clerical authorities.

Author: Andrew Bowen (epd, dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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