Child Abuse Photograph:( Reuters )
The 800-page report on the Cologne diocese was commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church and uncovered 202 perpetrators of sexual assault and 314 victims
A much-awaited independent study has revealed that hundreds of sexual violence cases have been committed by Germany's clergy and laymen in the European nation's top diocese.
The 800-page report on the Cologne diocese was commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church and uncovered 202 perpetrators of sexual assault and 314 victims between 1975 and 2018.
"More than half of the victims were children under the age of 14," Bjoern Gercke, a lawyer mandated by the Church, told reporters.
While the results of the report were shocking, the investigation has cleared Cologne's Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki's name.
Woelki is a conservative who has long resisted reform, of breach of duty over the abuse. Series of protests were carried out against him after it was alleged that he refused to allow publication of an earlier study based on abuse committed by priests from his diocese.
The conservative, however, defended his decision by citing a right to privacy of the alleged culprits in the report and had also raised the question of lack of independence on part of some of the researchers.
His approach, however, was called a "disaster" by Georg Baetzing, president of the German bishops' conference.
Woelki is now suspending two Cologne Church officials, bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp and the head of a diocese court, Guenter Assenmacher, with immediate effect and has held them responsible for a "cover-up" of several child abuse cases.
He has also assured that he will carry a detailed reading of the report and issue more concrete measures next week against the alleged culprits.
"The tragedy of Cologne regarding the report and the archbishop overshadowed this aspect," the government commissioner on child sexual abuse, Johannes-Wilhelm Roerig said.