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German tells of childhood abuse by Catholic priest
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German tells of childhood abuse by Catholic priest

Hi folks,

The Catholic church in Europe is being hit by an avalanche of abuse scandals.

Here a story of abuse and the link to related cases:

German tells of childhood abuse by Catholic priest

By Steve Rosenberg
BBC News, Scharbeutz, Germany

Norbert Denef
Norbert Denef now campaigns to draw attention to abuse

Germany's northern coast is still in the grip of winter.

In the seaside town of Scharbeutz, the almost deserted beach looks more like a glacier, with thick carpets of ice spreading out along the sea.

Norbert Denef loves the Ostsee, even in winter. He lives just a few minutes from the beach and often comes here for walks, or even for a morning dip in the icy waters.

"This place is like a therapy for me," Mr Denef explains as we stroll along the shore.

He moved to Scharbeutz last year to begin a new life, away from the memories which have been haunting him since he was a child.

"When I was 10 years old, the local Catholic priest selected me to be an altar boy," he says.

"I was very excited. After the service he took me up to his apartment. I felt so proud. Then he locked the door, sat down and undid my trousers. He performed a sexual act on me. At that very moment he murdered my soul."

Shame and silence

For the next five years, Mr Denef was subjected to sexual abuse by the priest, a friend of his parents.

All my life there hasn't been a day when I haven't had a picture in my mind of what happened
Norbert Denef

Then, following an intervention by the church organist, the clergyman was transferred to a different diocese.

But Mr Denef's ordeal was not over. The organist began abusing him and continued doing so for three more years.

"All my life there hasn't been a day when I haven't had a picture in my mind of what happened," he says.

"Sometimes it's just a noise or a smell which triggers the memory."

For 35 years, Mr Denef suffered in shame and in silence. He told no-one what he had experienced.

He got married and had children. He could not bring himself to share his secret with them.

"Until the age of 40, I thought I was the only one who'd suffered this. I felt I was in a dark place, in solitary confinement."

Scandal spreads

It is clear today that Mr Denef was not the only victim.

In recent weeks more and more Germans have been coming forward with their own stories of abuse.

Suddenly, the scale of physical and sexual in Germany's Roman Catholic Church looks much larger.
the Benedictine-run Ettal Monastery in Ettal, Germany, 12 March 2010
Allegations have emerged at several Roman Catholic institutions in Germany

So far there have been more 170 allegations of sexual abuse relating to Catholic institutions in Germany.

They include Jesuit colleges and a Bavarian monastery where priests are alleged to have abused children as far back as the 1950s.

Another is the Regensburg boys choir school. Pope Benedict XVI's brother, Georg Ratzinger, who led the choir for 30 years, has admitted slapping choirboys.

But he has denied any knowledge of sexual abuse during his time there.

Mr Denef finally decided to reveal his secret when he realised his own family was on the point of breaking apart.

"I went on one holiday with my wife and children and I didn't speak to my kids at all for the three weeks we were there. I felt totally burned out. My wife told me to do something about it."

He took a long time building up the courage to tell them.

"I spent a year in front of the mirror, practising trying to say the words 'I was sexually abused.' I tried to force those words from my lips."

Gag order

Going public with his ordeal led to fresh pain. Mr Denef says he was disowned by his brothers and sisters who wanted no more to do with him.

After he reported the two offenders to the church authorities, Norbert says he was eventually offered 25,000 euros (£22,650) in compensation - on condition that he never speak about the abuse.

The gag order incensed him and he refused to sign that clause.

"I vowed never to remain silent again," he says.

For every 10 people you hear saying they were abused, you can be sure there are another ten thousand victims staying silent
Norbert Denef

He wrote to the Pope - at that time John Paul II - asking for help, and received a letter from Rome.

It contained no apology. Instead, a Vatican official wrote that the Pope would pray for him and encouraged him to return to the family of the Church.

The letter drove Mr Denef into a deep depression. He attempted suicide.

"I felt like a light was switching off inside me. I tried to drown myself. But suddenly I felt a great inner strength pushing me out of the water. I wanted to live again."

Since then, he has campaigned to highlight the problem of abuse in the Catholic Church.

The 60-year-old has also lobbied the German parliament, to try to bring about a change in the law.

"Most important of all, the statute of limitations for sex crimes should be extended," he says.

"At the moment you can't prosecute many of the offenders, because they committed their crimes so long ago.

"This itself is a crime. It puts more pressure on victims to stay silent."

Mr Denef expects the scale of the scandal to grow.

"What we hear now is only the tip of the iceberg," he says.

"For every 10 people you hear saying they were abused, you can be sure there are another ten thousand victims staying silent."



Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.- MLK

03-12-2010 05:40 PM
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RE: German tells of childhood abuse by Catholic priest

what can one even say... :crybaby::crybaby::crybaby:

''In the midst of winter I finally learned that in me there was an invincible summer.'' Albert Camus

''live simply, speak kindly, love unconditionally''
03-12-2010 05:53 PM
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Around, again!

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RE: German tells of childhood abuse by Catholic priest

Vatican ends "wall of silence" over child abuse scandal

St Peter's Basilica, Rome

The Vatican has been forced to defend itself over abuse cases

The Vatican is breaking its silence on the previously taboo subject of paedophilia, following allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Germany. As the Pope has now become embroiled in the scandal, the BBC's David Willey questions whether he has been doing his job properly.

During four decades of reporting from the Vatican, I have never seen a graver crisis affecting the very credibility of the leadership of the world's longest surviving international organisation, the Roman Catholic Church.

In recent weeks, Pope Benedict has had to deal with some very serious allegations.

They have been documented in two official Dublin government reports on scandals concerning the way his Church leaders in Ireland have systematically played down reported cases of clerical sexual abuse of minors.

The Pope has been busy writing new instructions to the clergy and faithful of traditionally Catholic Ireland, drawing up stricter rules for dealing with priestly paedophilia.

Multiple scandals

Without warning, he was suddenly confronting new, similar scandals which have come to light in his own country, Germany - including one in the very town where he taught at the university and where his brother was choirmaster of a famous boys' choir.

His promised pastoral letter to Ireland has had to be put on hold.

Now his record as Archbishop of Munich in the late 1970s and early 80s, is being mercilessly scrutinised by the international media.

For the first time, senior Catholic figures are beginning to call publicly for a re-examination of the rule of priestly celibacy

Did Pope Benedict know, or did he not know, about cases of priest paedophiles reported in his own diocese?

If yes, then why did he not act to discipline and remove them and inform the police?

It has since been admitted in Germany that there was a cover up, just as in similar cases elsewhere.

The Vatican says this hypothesis - as far as the Pope himself is concerned, is "false and defamatory".

But if the answer is no, then it seems legitimate to ask if the Archbishop, as he was then, was doing his job properly?

Oldest taboo

Naturally the Vatican public relations machine has been working overtime to deflect all personal criticism away from the pontiff.

A German prelate has taken the rap for the Munich cover up. The Vatican's version is that Pope Benedict knew nothing about one particularly worrisome and well-documented case which has remained in the headlines for days.

Ordinary Catholics in many countries are now asking questions about a subject which has been taboo at the Vatican ever since I can remember.

The other day a senior Vatican official, Monsignor Charles Scicluna - an amiable priest from Malta who holds the title of Promoter of Justice - actually gave a lengthy official interview about how headquarters in Rome have been reacting to the huge growth in the number of cases of clerical abuse reported to the Pope during the past decade alone.

He said their desks had been flooded with accusations of sexual misdemeanours by priests, above all in the United States, back in 2003 and 2004.

"Only 300 priests were actual cases of paedophilia... it is not as widespread as has been believed." Monsignor Charles Scicluna

Cardinal Ratzinger - as he was then known - was head of the department responsible for disciplining seriously errant clergy worldwide.

He had displayed "wisdom and courage" in his handling of cases, Monsignor Scicluna declared.

He also gave numbers: during the past decade the Holy Office received details of 3,000 Catholic priests reported by their Bishops to Rome for sexual misconduct or, even worse, crimes.

Sixty per cent of these cases involved homosexual acts, 30% related to heterosexual behaviour and only 10% - or 300 priests - were, he said, "actual cases of paedophilia."

This was, of course, too many, Monsignor Scicluna admitted, but he added: "The phenomenon is not as widespread as has been believed."

Priestly misbehaviour

Some of the excuses have been lame, to say the least. For example, Father Lombardi, the official Vatican spokesperson, stressed that the problem of paedophilia is not limited to Church institutions.

He also denied that a "wall of silence" had been erected by Pope Benedict in 2001, when he signed an official Vatican document telling Catholic Bishops around the world to keep secret the details of priestly misbehaviour that they reported to Rome.
Pope Benedict XVI
The Pope sees celibacy in priests as "full devotion" to the Catholic church

This was simply a case of mistranslation of the text, according to Monsignor Scicluna: "The Church does not like to showcase justice, but has never banned the denouncing of crimes to the civil authorities," he said.

Even in Italy, cases of priestly paedophilia are coming out of the woodwork - over 80 of them, according to prosecutors.

In one case, the priest defended himself on the grounds that he sincerely believed it was not sinful for him to have sexual relations - provided it was not with a woman.

The whole problem of sex and the priesthood is now being discussed in a way it never has been before.

For the first time senior Catholic figures are beginning to call publicly for a re-examination of the rule of priestly celibacy.

Some have retracted, clearly on instructions from Rome, but the trend is unmistakeable, and the tipping point may have been reached this year as a result of the Vatican's inability to stem the tide of scandal.



Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.- MLK

03-18-2010 12:29 PM
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