Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
BERLIN - The German government wants the Roman Catholic Church to shed full light on sexual abuse of children in its institutions following a series of scandals, a report said Saturday.
The weekly Der Spiegel, in its issue to appear on Monday, quoted Education Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger as saying she wanted the Church to take "concrete steps" to this end.
She proposed a meeting with government representatives, the Church and victims of abuse to discuss possible compensation.
Der Spiegel said the issue could be raised at a four-day conference of German bishops opening Monday in the western city of Freiburg.
In January an elite Jesuit school in Berlin admitted the systematic sexual abuse of its pupils by Roman Catholic priests over the course of several years.
Klaus Mertes, the rector of the prestigious Canisius secondary school, which takes pupils aged 10 to 19, said at least two priests had repeatedly abused students in the 1970s and 1980s.
"In the victims' experience, in the Canisius school and the order as a whole, those who had a duty to protect the victims looked away," he said in a letter to some 500 alumni.
A spokeswoman for the Berlin state prosecutor's office said a probe had been opened against the two but noted that most of the cases may have fallen under the statute of limitations covering all but the most severe instances of abuse.
Since then allegations of abuse have surfaced at Catholic boarding schools at Mindelheim in Bavaria and Grosskrotzenburg near Frankfurt, as well as children's homes at Augsburg, Berlin, and Oggelsbeuren in the south, and a centre for handicapped at Essen.
An association of Catholic lay people, "We are the Church", has also called on bishops to come clean, and admit that cases that have come to light are not isolated.
Association spokeswoman Sigrid Grabmeier said German Pope Benedict XVI should make a statement urgently.
The pope on Tuesday rebuked Irish bishops over a paedophile priest scandal and urged them to restore the Church’s "spiritual and moral credibility."
The pope called child abuse a "heinous crime" and a "grave sin" as he wrapped up two days of talks with two dozen bishops seeking to limit the damage from the scandal.
Explosive government investigations in Ireland revealed that one priest admitted to sexually abusing more than 100 children, while another said he had abused minors on a fortnightly basis over 25 years.
However victims' groups and other critics said the Vatican talks had failed to meet their expectations, accusing the Church of evading responsibility. - Sapa-AFP