Catholic church destroyed child-abuse files: German archbishop
The issue will not be resolved, however, until the Roman Catholic establishment removes the vows of celibacy for the priesthood.
German Cardinal Reinhard Marx yesterday (Saturday) said documents possibly containing proof of sexual abuse in the church were destroyed or never drawn up.
“Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed or not even created,” said the archbishop of Munich, who is a member of Francis’ inner circle of advisers and regarded as one of the most powerful Catholic leaders.
“The stipulated procedures and processes for the prosecution offences were deliberately not complied with but instead cancelled and overridden,” he told the media.
“Such standard practices will make it clear that it is not transparency which damages the church, but rather the acts of abuse committed, the lack of transparency, or the ensuing coverup.”
Marx’s admission came on the third day of the unique four-day Vatican event combating sexual abuse. The day’s theme was transparency.
At the start of the gathering of 114 bishops, the pope urged the bishops to take “concrete measures” to combat abuse.
Marx said revelations about destroyed files came from a study commissioned by German bishops in 2014.
He did not name the German dioceses involved.
“The study indicates that some documents were manipulated or did not contain what they should have contained,” Marx told the press conference. “The fact in itself cannot be denied.”
Marx said he doubted the destruction of files related to clerical sexual abuse was confined to one diocese.
Victims gathered in Rome to protest against decades of cover-up and demanded accountability. They shouted “zero tolerance” while marching on the Vatican.
Among the protesters was Alberto Athie of Mexico, who was one of the first victims to accuse Legion of Christ founder Reverend Marcial Maciel of paedophilia.
One issue not on the agenda at the summit kept being mentioned: homosexuality.
“We spoke of this,” Bishop Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzmán from Bolivia.
Sister Veronica Openibo, one of the only women invited to the unprecedented event, reiterated the consequences years of abuse on millions of Catholics.
“A large number of Catholics are and will be angry and confused,” she told the event. “We must acknowledge that our mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and scandalous place we find ourselves as a church.”
Is it time to end the vow of celibacy? Picture credit: US Air Force