German Catholic priests 'abused thousands of children'

German Catholic priests 'abused thousands of children'

More than half were 13 years old or younger at the time of the abuse, the study concluded after examining 38,000 documents from 27 German dioceses.

If the state legislature approves, Kentucky will be the ninth US state to have an attorney general investigation into Catholic clerical sex abuse and the cover-ups by Church leaders. Die Zeit wrote that 969 abuse victims were altar boys.

Bishop Ackermann said the report had been leaked to the press before the Church itself had seen it.

Der Spiegel quoted the study as saying that the Church had often transferred clerics accused of sexual abuse without providing the new host community with "appropriate information" about them.

The document, commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference, revealed that 1,670 clerics and priests had sexually abused 3,677 minors, mostly males, in the country between 1946 and 2014, news magazine Der Spiegel said.

"I stress that the study is a measure that we owe not only to the Church but first and foremost, to those affected".

The study, commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference, was due to be presented officially on September 25, but several local media published key conclusions, including the damning finding that more than 3,600 children were sexually assaulted by priests in Germany over almost seven decades.

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Closer to home, Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley has been implicated - along with Pope Francis - by an archbishop who accuses church leaders of covering up for ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington when he was accused of sexually abusing both children and adults.

Deutsche Welle reported that church authorities pursued only one-third of alleged abusers.

Separately on Wednesday, Pope Francis called for an extraordinary meeting of top Catholic officials to discuss the escalating abuse scandal that has made headlines in recent weeks.

Wuerl has faced calls to resign, including from a local deacon at St. Matthew's Cathedral and many other D.C. -area Catholics over his handling of sex abuse allegations by Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania when Wuerl was bishop there almost 30 years ago.

The leaked study was published on the day Pope Francis summoned the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences to a summit on preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children, responding to the greatest crisis of his papacy with the realisation that Vatican inaction on the growing scandal now threatens his legacy.

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

Pope Francis was caught up in the scandal last month, after a former Vatican diplomat accused him of ignoring allegations against a U.S. cardinal for five years.

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