New study details sexual abuse by German Catholic priests over decades

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The Bishop also said it was regrettable that the report was made public "as not even the members of the German Bishops' Conference know the full study".

About one in six of cases documented involved rape and three quarters of the victims were abused in a church or through a pastoral relationship with the abuser.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl said in a letter Tuesday that Pope Francis has asked him too "discern the best course of action" toward helping the church move forward in the wake of the allegations against him, which surfaced last month after a Pennsylvania grand jury accused more than 300 priests of child sex abuse.

Gaenswein said the recent news of the sexual abuse and its victims from the US were "even more awful than the sudden collapse of all the churches of Pennsylvania together with the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington", according to the AP. Spiegel Online wrote on Wednesday the report it obtained - commissioned by the German Bishops Conference and researched by three universities - concludes that more than half of the victims were 13 or younger and most were boys.

A leading German magazine says a report on sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church in Germany details 3,677 abuses cases by Catholic clergy between 1946 and 2014.

Pope Francis will also meet with USA church leaders on Thursday.

The German Bishops Conference said in a written response a few hours later that it regretted the leaking of the report, but that the study confirms "the extent of the sexual abuse" that took place.

In many cases, evidence was destroyed or manipulated, it cited the study as saying.

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A Church spokesman said it was "dismayed and ashamed" by the findings. The Roman Catholic Church, which has more than 1.2 billion adherents worldwide, has grappled in recent years with reports of sexual abuse by clergy that have badly tarnished its moral authority. Again, I emphasize: "The study is a measure that we owe not only to the Church, but above all, and first and foremost, to those affected".

What is the Church doing about abuse claims?

The Vatican had no immediate comment on the Spiegel report.

Also on Wednesday, the Vatican said it's summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children.

The pontiff has faced mounting criticism over his handling of historic clerical sex abuse allegations.

Earlier this week, the Vatican said it is preparing the "necessary clarifications" about accusations that top Vatican officials including Pope Francis covered up the sexual misconduct of a now-disgraced American ex-cardinal.

It came after a grand jury report detailed seven decades of abuse in the USA state of Pennsylvania.

The Catholic Church in Germany has acknowledged a "depressing and shameful" legacy of sexual abuse after a leaked study said clerics had abused thousands of children over a 70-year period. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.

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