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Report: Hundreds of boys abused at German choir school

Catholic priest Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, at his home in Regensburg, Germany, on April 20, 2005. Photo by Tobias Schwarz/Reuters

BERLIN (AP) — At least 547 members of a prestigious Catholic boys choir in Germany were physically or sexually abused between 1945 and 1992, according to a newly released report.

Allegations involving the Domspatzen choir in Regensburg, which was run for 30 years by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s elder brother, were among a spate of revelations of abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in Germany that emerged in 2010. In 2015, lawyer Ulrich Weber was tasked with producing a report on what happened.

The report, released Tuesday (July 18), said 547 boys at the Domspatzen’s school “with a high degree of plausibility” were victims of physical or sexual abuse, or both. It counted 500 cases of physical violence and 67 of sexual violence, committed by a total of 49 perpetrators.

At the choir’s preschool, “violence, fear and helplessness dominated” and “violence was an everyday method,” it said.

“The whole system of education was oriented toward top musical achievements and the choir’s success,” the report said. “Alongside individual motives, institutional motives — namely, breaking the will of the children with the aim of maximum discipline and dedication — formed the basis for violence.”

The report’s authors said they checked the plausibility of 591 potential victims’ cases.

The choir was led from 1964 to 1994 by Benedict’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger.

Ratzinger has acknowledged slapping pupils after he took over the choir, though such punishments were commonplace in Germany at that time. He also said he was aware of allegations of physical abuse at the elementary school and did nothing about it, but he was not aware of sexual abuse.

The report faulted Ratzinger “in particular for ‘looking away’ or for failing to intervene.”

It also cited criticism by victims of the Regensburg diocese’s initial efforts to investigate past abuse. It said that the bishop at the time the allegations surfaced, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, bears “clear responsibility for the strategic, organizational and communicative weaknesses” of those efforts.

Cardinal Mueller became the head of the Vatican’s doctrine office in 2012. Pope Francis recently removed him from that job.

Current Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer has already announced plans to offer victims compensation of between 5,000 and 20,000 euros ($5,730 and $22,930) each by the end of this year.

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The Associated Press

18 Comments

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  • How many more instances of abuse are going to be uncovered, or worse, never known? With the accusations against Pell the scandal may reach to the top. The Christian god’s lack of action on this far-reaching and long-lived abuse says a lot.

  • BXVI’s brother was known to be caught up in this scandal for many years even before he became pope. There is no hope of reaching the truth or restitution through the RCC coming clean. Unfortunately it is up to the victim/survivors to come together and tell the world the horrors they have endured forcing the RCC again to explain their behaviors. I hope they realize that they have the entire world behind them including the catholic laity. All they need to do again is get the truth out. May God give them the strength to do as such.

  • And, for another pro-Christian article today……(sarcasm off) Oh, and jeepers, they only had to go back to 2015 for this one!
    What is reported is wrong…..no question, but the allegiance to defacing Christianity on this site is remarkable. I’ve got a link to an article where Muslim are pushing homosexuals off of buildings if anyone is interested. I think it’s more current.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/13/the-islamic-states-shocking-war-on-homosexuals/?utm_term=.5c41ed72934c
    there you go….that’s at least from last year.

  • This is still very much an active scandal. This is not over by a long shot, and what we will be seeing is eastern Europe hopefully opening up because there are massive abuses there as well.

  • They murder our bodies. You and your ilk murder our souls, starting with children if you can get at them. Both of you think you are holy, both of you cannot conceive of shame and opprobrium being attached to you. The only difference between anti gay Muslims and antigay Christians is 1) what your legal systems allow you to get away with, 2) your opinions of each other, and 3) one of you doesn’t pretend that it’s all about love.

  • This article is based on a report just published, now, not in 2015. This is a huge current problem in Germany. Go ahead, hate good loving gays and defend rapist priests.

  • Nice to see you too Ben. Actually, it is intended to remind you that you do have a soul and where that soul will spend eternity, should you not repent. Blessings.

  • Citizen, I don’t really hate anyone. But, I intensely dislike when people lie about Christ and hurt people with those lies. Would you not do the same for the one who loves you the most?

  • No, but you do have to deny being a passive aggressive little lollipop triple dipped in psycho…
    I mean, a good, kind and loving Christian.

  • Unnoticed is the fact that Germany diverts billions of dollars per year to the Catholic and Lutheran churches. And in the US the Catholic bishops have been working for decades to get public funding for their private schools through vouchers and tax credits. Meanwhile, Trump, DeVos, Pence and many GOO lawmakers favor forcing all taxpayers to help support church schools despite the fact that in 28 state referenda from coast to coast between 1966 and 2014 millions of voters have rejected these attacks on religious liberty and our publ9ic schools by an average margin of 2 to 1. — Edd Doerr

  • You are going to see it any way that you want anyway. But, we are concerned for your salvation also, Ben.

  • Strictly speaking, Edd, I don’t think they are diverting funds to the churches. There is a church tax in Germany. IF you don’t want to pay it, you have to formally disengage yourself from the church. A lot of people just pay it for various reasons. It’s not too difficult not to pay it, but sometimes, it isn’t worth it. My husband’s sister stayed on the rolls while their father was alive, because he was very religious.

  • You are right, but the church tax does funnel a heck of a lot of public funds to the two churches.

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