In an attempt to restore credibility lost by the sexual abuse scandal that erupted in 2010, the German Catholic Church in Bonn today announced it will open its archives to independent experts of the church hierarchy.
The details of the initiative were presented by representatives of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK), in a press conference in which said, among other things, expected to open for the first time personal files from 1945.
Bishop Stephan Ackermann, commissioned by the DBK for all matters relating to the issue of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Germany, said the agreement was reached for two projects of inquiry in what he called a "sincere will clarify. "
In fact, through the opening of the archives to independent experts should be examined not only data but also are invited to analyze and remove the causes of abuse.
Although the announcement was made so far is from last April that the Christian Scientists Pfiff, president of the Institute of Criminology Norbert Leygraf Lower Saxony and the University of Duisburg, lead this work.
According to the online edition of Der Spiegel weekly research, this initiative "is unprecedented in Europe ', as it will involve every diocese in the country and allow access to documents dating back to 1945.
So far there has been no registration by experts outside the Church of the records relating to such crimes. This initiative provides that church officials offered support to researchers in examining abuse cases filed.
In a second time the experts will evaluate all suspected cases. This phase also provides the ability to send a questionnaire to all potential victims.
The criminologist Christian Pfeiffer said in an interview with the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, so far no evidence that abuse is more common among the ecclesiastical hierarchy in other parts of the population.
"Members of the Church, compared to their age group in the rest of the population, are underrepresented," said the president of the Institute of Criminology in Lower Saxony.
Scientific research will be developed in parallel with the initiative of compensation is carried out in various German dioceses.
The Church announced earlier that it plans to compensate each victim with a sum of five thousand euros (seven billion dollars) or more, in particularly serious cases.
In recent months, after the scandal last year, the number of new complaints registered by the German Church would be "significantly lower," said Ackermann, who however did not provide specifics.
However, complaints are not enough, 'we also bring to light the truth that may lie still undiscovered among the files, "said the person responsible for sexual abuse of DBK