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Abuse allegations

March 12, 2010

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch renewed his apology on behalf of the German church following a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. The pope has yet to speak on the scandal.

Pope Benedict XVI
Zollitsch met with the pope at the Vatican on FridayImage: picture alliance/dpa

The head of the German Bishops' Conference, Robert Zollitsch, met with the pope in the Vatican to inform him of the abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic church in Germany.

"I want to repeat here in Rome the apology that I made two weeks ago," Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg said at a news conference following the meeting.

The pope has not commented himself on the allegation of both sexual and physical abuse that are to have taken place at Catholic schools across Germany in the 1970s and 1980s.

The church has come under heavy criticism after an elite Jesuit school in Berlin admitted to the systematic sexual abuse of its pupils by two Roman Catholic priests. More alleged victims have since come forward, including a former member of the prestigious all-boys choir in Regensburg led from 1964-1994 by the pope's brother, Georg Ratzinger.

Slapping choirboys

Georg Ratzinger has denied knowledge of the sexual abuse, but admitted to the newspaper Passauer Neue Presse that he did slap choirboys.

On Friday, the vice president of the German parliament, Wolfgang Thierse asked Pope Benedict XVI to apologize to the victims.

"I think it would be appropriate if the pope expressed a public word of regret for the offenses of the Catholic institutions in Germany, and issued an apology," said Thierse on Friday on RBB-Info radio. He added that monetary compensation was also in order, but that those affected would receive much more satisfaction if "it is really explained - and consequences are enforced," Thierse said.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger
Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger thinks the Church needs to do moreImage: AP

Germany's Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has criticized the Catholic church's handling of the scandal, saying the crimes were under the jurisdiction of the justice system, not the church. During a talk show on German public television, the minister said that there had been too few prosecutions in the abuse cases.

"This has to improve," said Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.

So far around 120 people have come forward alleging abuse by leaders of the Catholic church.

Editor: Chuck Penfold