Catholic sexual abuse cases in Europe

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The Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Europe has affected several dioceses in European nations.

Contents

Austria[edit]

Archdiocese of Vienna[edit]

In 1995 Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër stepped down as head of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria following accusations of sexual misconduct. In 1998 he left the country. He remained a cardinal.[1]

Diocese of Sankt Pölten[edit]

Bishop Kurt Krenn resigned from his post in 2004 after there was a scandal concerning child pornography allegedly being downloaded by a student at the seminary.[2][3] Up to 40,000 photos and an undisclosed number of films, including child pornography, were found on the computer of one of the seminarians, but Krenn earlier angered many by calling the images a "childish prank."[4]

Belgium[edit]

Abuse affairs have affected several Belgian dioceses, which were hurt by allegations of abuse similar to those found in other Western countries. In response to this, an independent commission was established by the Belgian Episcopal Conference in 2000 under the presidency of Godelieve Halsberghe, a retired magistrate. A total of more than 300 complaints were made to the commission. The commission ultimately dealt with 33 formal complaints. 32 complaints were upheld by the commission, 1 was ruled false. Of these, only 1 case came before a court, because the facts of the other 31 cases were concerned with statutes of limitation. In about half of the 32 cases, the alleged abusers, clerics and religious, refused to appear before the commission, due to a lack of cooperation from the Belgian episcopate in forcing hierarchical obeyance to do so. The president and numerous commission members resigned from the commission as a result.

A second Independent Commission was established in 2009 under the presidency of psychiatrist Peter Adriaenssens.[5] He resigned his commission in the aftermath of the large-scale police raid on 24 June 2010. Judicial police searched the archbishopric palace in Mechlin whilst the Belgian episcopal conference was officially meeting. Further searches were conducted at the archbishopric cathedral of Mechlin, the private residence of former archbishop Godfried Danneels in Mechlin and the offices of the independent commission in Leuven. 450 internal dossiers were confiscated.[6]

Archdiocese of Mechlin-Brussels[edit]

  • Former parish priest André Vanderlyn of Saint-Gillis parish in Brussels was arrested 20 June 1997 on charges of rape of a minor. He later confessed to seven rape cases between 1968 and 1997.[7]
  • On 18 December 2008, former parish priest Robert Borremans was sentenced to five years in prison for sexual abuse of an 6-year-old boy from 1994 until 2001. His sentence was uphold in the Brussels court of appeal in April 2010. As a consequence, he will be defrocked. He had previously been convicted for indecent exposure. He presided over the marriage mass of Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium and his wife Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz.[8][9][10][11]

Diocese of Antwerp[edit]

  • April 8, 1999, former parish priest Joris Horvath was beaten to death on the street by Wim C. After a police investigation it was revealed that Wim C. had been sexually abused by the dead priest as a child. Wim C. was shot & wounded in the shoulder by the Special Forces of the police during the incident.[5][12]
  • Former parish priest Bruno Vos of the Onze Lieve Vrouw ten Hemel Opgenomen Nieuwmoer-parish in Kalmthout was officially charged with rape of four minors by the Belgian judiciary. There are also allegations of possession of child pornography included in the charge.[12] The Antwerp court of appeal sentenced him to nine years imprisonment in April 2009.[13][14]
  • Former Sint-Filippus-parish in Schoten parish priest Jef Van den Ouweland was convicted in 2003 for the rape of three boys, who were abused since 1982.[15]

Diocese of Bruges[edit]

  • On 14 November 2005, former religious brother Luc D. of the Congregation of the Fratres Van Dale was sentenced by a Belgian court to 10 years imprisonment for sexual abuse of 20 mentally handicapped persons over a period of 16 years.[16]
  • On 14 November 2005, former religious brother Roger H. of the Congregation of the Fratres Van Dale was sentenced by a Belgian court to 10 years imprisonment for sexual abuse of mentally handicapped persons.[16]
  • In April 2010, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe resigned after admitting to the sexual abuse of a boy during his career as a Priest and his early years as a Bishop.[17]
  • Father Marc Vangheluwe resigned his post as deacon for the parish community of Ieper-Sint-Elooi and teacher in a school for handicapped children in May 2010 following the media backlash concerning paedophilia. He was convicted in a criminal court for the rape of a minor during the eighties, but could continue his activities as a teacher and pastoral worker.[18]

Diocese of Ghent[edit]

  • In 1881, the Brothers of our Lady of Lourdes were confronted with a first scandal. One brother was sent to jail. In the 1960s a new scandal erupted in the same institute.
  • Former parish priest Leo A. of Sint-Martinus parish at Bavegem was convicted to 7 years imprisonment for raping minor choir boys.[19][20]

Diocese of Hasselt[edit]

On 27 November 2009, parish priest Bart Aben of Overpelt parish in Limburg was arrested by the police on accusations of rape and sexual abuse of two children, one male and one female, in his previous parish, Bocholtz over a long period of time, from 1991 until 2008. He confessed his abuse to his bishop, Mgr. Patrick Hoogmartens and the police.[5][21]

Diocese of Liège[edit]

On 25 September 1992, parish priest Louis Dupont of Kinkempois parish near Liège was convicted to three years imprisonment and five years in case of repetition by a Belgian court for the rape of a minor girl and boy in 1990.[22][23]

Diocese of Namur[edit]

  • On 25 October 2000, former parish priest André Louis of Ottré parish near Namur was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for the rape of 26 children over a long period of time.[24][25]
  • Former parish priest Gilbert Hubermont of a Greater-Namur parish was convicted for sexual harassment of a 14-year-old choir boy from Aubange between 1987 and 1991. The case was reopened and Hubermont was finally convicted 5 June 2007.[26][27]

Diocese of Tournai[edit]

Priest Jean-François Gysels, former parish priest in Brunehaut and Rumes and former deacon of Antoing in the diocese of Tournai, was arrested in 2006 as a result of operation Falcon, an American led worldwide investigation of internet child pornography.[28][29]

Salesians[edit]

In 2007, a Belgian criminal court convicted Willem V.C., a laicised Salesian priest, to 4 years imprisonment for sexual delinquency with multiple adolescent minors. During the criminal investigation by the police and judiciary, previous acts of sexual delinquency were discovered that occurred during his membership of the Salesian congregation. He was expelled from this order in 2001 for these incidents.[5]

Croatia[edit]

Archdiocese of Zagreb[edit]

Ivan Čuček convicted [30] in 2000 for sexual abuse of 37 young girls, sentenced to three years in prison, but later the Croatian Supreme Court reduced the sentence [31] to one and a half years in case he commits such crime again.

Archdiocese of Rijeka[edit]

Drago Ljubičić convicted in 2007 was Catholic priest on island Rab sentenced to three years in prison for molesting five teenage boys. He will be first Catholic priest to serve prison time for sexual abuse in Croatia [1]. When asked by Catholic press agency Glas Koncila (prior to scandal) why children avoid going to church he blamed 'strong influence of communism on island Rab'.[32]

Czech Republic[edit]

Archdiocese of Olomouc[edit]

In 2000 Fr. František Merta and Olomouc Archbishop Jan Graubner were charged after allegations were made by a theology student, Václav Novák, that Merta had sexually abused altar boys since 1995. Novák persuaded a group of victims to come forward with their allegations against Merta. In 2001, Merta was found guilty of sexually abusing more than 20 boys and given a suspended sentence of two years. When he was a priest in Moravia, Archbishop Jan Graubner failed to report him. Instead, Graubner moved him from location to location whenever problems appeared. A book about Merta's child sexual abuse cases, Krici Hlasem Zrady (They Are Shouting the Voice of Betrayal), was published in March 2001 by Václav Novák.[33]

Denmark[edit]

Diocese of Copenhagen[edit]

In the end of April 2010 Danish Catholic Church reported pedophilia cases has risen to 17 cases.[34]

France[edit]

Abuse affairs have also affected the Church in France.[35]

Archdiocese of Paris[edit]

Diocese of Meaux[edit]

Parish priest Henri Lebras of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Meaux was sentenced to ten years for the rape of a twelve-year-old boy between 1995 and 1998.[39]

Archdiocese of Rouen[edit]

Diocese of Evreux[edit]

65-year-old Canadian-born priest Denis Vadeboncoeur of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Évreux was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the rape of minors at the paroisse de Lieurey (Eure) between 1989 and 1992.[40]

Archdiocese of Besançon[edit]

  • Bruno Kieffer gave to a nine-year-old girl a gym lesson with both of them naked, showed to his class a latex thong he was wearing, and was sentenced to one year for exhibition and sexual aggression of a fifteen-year-old girl.[41]
  • Jean Luc Heckner - sentenced to 16 years in jail on charges of raping seven young boys (11-14yrs) between 1992 and 1998.[40]

Germany[edit]

  • In February 2010 Der Spiegel reported that more than 94 clerics and laymen have been suspected of sexual abuse since 1995; but only 30 of those suspects had actually been prosecuted because of legal time constraints on pursuing cases.[42]
  • On March 30, 2010 the Catholic Church set up a Sexual Abuse Hotline in Germany and received almost 2,700 calls in its first three days of operation.[43]

Archdiocese of Munich and Freising[edit]

Main article: Peter Hullermann

The German daily newspaper the Süddeutsche Zeitung revealed details of the mishandling of the case of a pedophile priest in the archdiocese of Munich in the early 1980s when Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) was archbishop of Munich. In January 1980 Cardinal Ratzinger approved the transfer of Father Peter Hullermann, who had been accused of sexual abuse, including forcing an 11-year-old boy to perform oral sex upon him, to Munich to undergo therapy.[44] Despite his record, Hullermann was assigned work in the area of pastoral care where he again abused minors. In June 1986 he was convicted of sexually abusing minors, fined DM4,000 and given an 18-month suspended sentence. Hullermann continued to serve as a priest in a variety of parishes in Bavaria, Germany until he was suspended on Monday March 14, 2010. In March 2010, Fr. Gerhard Gruber, who was at the time vicar general in Munich, assumed total responsibility for the decision to readmit Hullermann to pastoral care work, expressing regret and seeming to suggest that Cardinal Ratzinger had not been fully informed. According to sex abuse whistleblower Fr Tom Doyle, who was quoted in the New York Times, "Pope Benedict is a micromanager. He's the old style. Anything like that would have been brought to his attention. Tell the vicar general to find a better line. What he's trying to do, obviously, is protect the pope."[45]

Referring both to this case and also to reports of sex abuse cases linked to the Regensburger Domspatzen choir, directed for 30 years by the pope's brother, Mgr Georg Ratzinger, Vatican senior spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi argued at the weekend that the pope had been the victim of a media witch-hunt. "There have been those who have tried, with a certain aggressive persistence, in Regensburg and Munich, to look for elements to personally involve the Holy Father (i.e., the Pope) in the matter of abuses . . . It is clear that these attempts have failed."[46]

Diocese of Regensburg[edit]

Diocesane priest Peter K, parish priest of Riekofen, Bavaria, was convicted of sexual abuse of minors in 2003. The priest was already convicted to a jail sentence and damages for multiple abuse of a minor in 2000.[47]

Archdiocese of Berlin[edit]

Canisius-Kolleg Berlin[edit]

In 2004 and 2005 two former students of the school told the headmaster of the school that they had been sexually abused by two of their former teachers. In December 2009 and January 2010 two other boys contacted the headmaster and claimed the same about the same teachers. The headmaster decided to write a letter to all former students in which he stated that he was deeply sorry for what happened. After receiving the letter several others of the former students contacted the headmaster and said that they - too - had been abused.

The names of the former students claiming to be sexually abused have been withheld from the public, but the public was told many of them were notable scientist or held political or economic positions of power. It was also revealed that some of the alumni, who had been abused decided to send their children to the Canisius-Kolleg.[48] One of the teachers has spoken out and said the allegations made against him were true, because he really had abused boys. The teachers might not be sued for what they did, because it seems that in most cases the time limit for pressing trial has passed, but the abused boys want them to apologize.[49]

Archdiocese of Freiburg[edit]

Kolleg Sankt Blasien[edit]

Main article: Kolleg St. Blasien

In 2010, Padre Wolfgang S admitted to several acts of sexual abuse of minors during his years as a teacher in Sankt Blasius from 1982 to 1984. Prior to that he had taught in another Jesuit college in Berlin (Canisius-Kolleg) where he had also molested children. The order in 2010 conceded that upon discovery, his superiors provided help him to emigrate to South America. Other cases of sexual abuse of minors in the Jesuit order have also been reported lately and are being investigated. As of February 2010, it seems that all cases have become time-barred.[50]

Wolfgang S., who currently lives in South America, claimed that he had informed his Jesuit superiors of his dark past in 1991.[51]

The German Society of Jesus apologized and asked the victims for forgiveness for what happened at the Canisius-Kolleg Berlin and the Kolleg St. Blasien.[52] The Vatican supported the apology.[53]

Great Britain[edit]

Abuse affairs have also had an impact on several British dioceses.

Archdiocese of Southwark[edit]

Diocese of Arundel and Brighton[edit]

In July 2000 the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor (later a cardinal), acknowledged he had made a mistake while he was Bishop of Arundel and Brighton in the 1980s by allowing a pedophile to carry on working as a priest. The priest at the center of the controversy, Father Michael Hill, was jailed in 1997 for abusing nine boys over a 20-year period.[54]

Diocese of Plymouth[edit]

Archdiocese of Cardiff[edit]

  • In 1998, Father John Lloyd, a parish priest and Bishop John Aloysius Ward's former press secretary, was imprisoned for sexual offences involving children.[58]

Benedictines[edit]

Kiltegan Fathers[edit]

Jeremiah McGrath of the Kiltegan Fathers was convicted in Liverpool in May 2007 for facilitating abuse by Billy Adams. McGrath had given Adams £20,000 in 2005 and Adams had used the money to impress a 12-year-old girl who he then raped over a six-month period. McGrath denied knowing about the abuse but admitted having a brief sexual relationship with Adams. His appeal in January 2008 was dismissed.[62]

Diocese of Middlesbrough[edit]

James Carragher, principal of the former St. William's School, owned by the Diocese of Middlesbrough, was jailed for 14 years in 2004 for abusing boys in his care over a 20-year period.[63]

Archdiocese of Birmingham[edit]

Father Alexander Bede Walsh was sentenced to 22 years in prison in March 2012 for serious paedophile offenses[clarification needed] against boys. Walsh used religion to control his young victims, telling one boy that drinking alcohol would get him to heaven, and another believed that the abuse was the hand of God touching him, for example. One young victim was driven to a suicide attempt.[64][65][66][67] Walsh had a previous conviction for computer indecency.[68]

James Robinson worked in parishes in the English Midlands and when an accusation of child abuse happened in the 1980s, the Roman Catholic Church allowed him to escape to the United States though they knew about an "unwholesome relationship" the priest had with a boy. Robinson remained free for over 20 years till in the first decade of the 21st century he was extradited back to the UK to face charges. Robinson has received a 21-year prison sentence for multiple paedophile offenses.[69][70][71][72] The Roman Catholic Church paid Robinson up to £800 per month despite knowing the allegations against him.[73]

There are widespread accusations of physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse of unprotected children at Father Hudson Home, Coleshill, Warwickshire. There are even allegations that vulnerable children disappeared inexplicably. According to reports, priests and nuns were the perpetrators.[74][75]

Diocese of Shrewsbury[edit]

In December 2012, staff at the Christian Brothers school St Ambrose College, Altrincham, were implicated in a child sex abuse case involving teaching staff carrying out alleged acts of abuse both on and off school grounds, although no current staff are said to be involved..[76] More than fifty former pupils contacted police, either as victims of, or witnesses to, sexual abuse. The alleged sexual abuse, including molestation of children while corporal punishment was administered, stemmed from 1962 onwards and continued over four decades. [77]

Ireland[edit]

Several priests who abused children in the United States were Irish Nationals, notably Patrick Colleary, Anthony O'Connell and Oliver O'Grady.

Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly[edit]

Diocese of Cloyne[edit]

In 2008, the Irish government referred two allegations of child sex abuse to the National Board for Child Protection, an independent supervisory body established by the Irish bishops. Bishop John Magee had failed to implement self-regulatory procedures agreed by the bishops of Ireland in 1996. Magee apologised to the victims after a report compiled by the Health Service Executive (HSE) found his diocese had put children at risk of harm through an "inability" to respond appropriately to abuse allegations.[78]

Diocese of Limerick[edit]

Archdiocese of Dublin[edit]

Father Paul McGennis, Dublin, Ireland. He abused M Collins when as a 13-year-old she was in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in 1961. Collins was later told that McGennis had admitted abusing children. However the Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin, Desmond Connell, refused "on legal advice" to supply his file on McGennis to the Irish police. McGennis was nevertheless convicted and gaoled. Collins subsequently received an apology from Cardinal Connell.

Diocese of Ferns[edit]

Main article: Ferns Report

The Ferns Inquiry 2005 - On 22 October 2005 a government-commissioned report compiled by a former Irish Supreme Court judge delivered an indictment of the handling of clerical sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ferns. The report revealed over one hundred cases of child sex abuse in the diocese, involving a number of clergymen, including Monsignor Micheál Ledwidth, the former head of the National Catholic seminary, Maynooth College.

Archdiocese of Tuam[edit]

Main article: McCoy Report

An eight-year (1999–2007) enquiry and report by Doctor Elizabeth Healy and Doctor Kevin McCoy into the Brothers of Charity Congregation's "Holy Family School" in Galway, the major city of the archdiocese, and two other locations was made public in December 2007. 11 brothers and 7 other staff members were alleged to have abused 121 intellectually disabled children in residential care in the period 1965-1998.

Archdiocese of Armagh[edit]

Diocese of Raphoe[edit]

The current Bishop of Derry, Séamus Hegarty, was Bishop of the Diocese of Raphoe in 1982–1994, at a time when one of his priests, Father Eugene Greene, raped 26 young men.

Italy[edit]

  • It is difficult to ascertain the correct statistics for clerical sexual abuse in Italy because the Italian government has a treaty with the Vatican that guarantees areas of immunity to Vatican officials, including bishops and priests.[79]
  • The Italian lawyer Sergio Cavaliere, advocat for victims, alleged in April 2010 that there has been a cover up of clerical abuse in Italy and that there had been 130 legal cases brought against priests for abuse in the previous ten years reported in the press.[80][81]
  • Prior to 2001, all cases were handled privately within dioceses. In 2001 then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent a letter to all bishops ordering all sex-abuse cases be transferred to the Vatican. He imposed total secrecy on the proceedings, with the penalty of excommunication for any violations.[79]
  • In May 2007, the Panorama documentary episode Sex Crimes and the Vatican was allowed to run on the state-run television station only with equal time for church officials.[79]

Archdiocese of Trento[edit]

Diocese of Bolzano-Brixen[edit]

In2008, an Italian priest was condemned by an Italian court of appeal to seven and a half years in prison for the sexual abuse of a 9 year old child. The abuse took place during a church organized summer camp. Damages in the amount of €700,000 were also levied.[82]

Archdiocese of Venice[edit]

Diocese of Verona[edit]

Three former students have claimed abuse and 65 former students signed statements saying that they or other students were abused by Catholic priests when attending the Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf, a Catholic school for deaf children in Verona, Italy. The abuse is alleged to have occurred from the 1950s to 1980s, and was reportedly conducted by 24 priests including the late bishop of Verona.[83][84][85]

Malta[edit]

84 allegations of child abuse have been made to the church from 1999 to 2010.[81]

Archdiocese of Malta[edit]

Father Anthony Mercieca, who was accused by former Florida Congressman Mark Foley of molesting him as a teenager, now lives in Malta.[86]

Netherlands[edit]

The abuse scandal in the Netherlands has affected several Dutch dioceses.

In 2012, press reports indicated that in the 1950s, officials in the Dutch Church took retribution against ten children who reported sexual abuse by having them surgically castrated. Due to the passage of time and loss of records, only one victim could be identified by name.[87][88]

Cases of sexual abuse by religious members of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands can since 1995 be notified to a central Church institution, called Secretariaat Rooms-Katholiek Kerkgenootschap (SRRK).[89][90]

In 2011 the Deetman Commission, acting on the 2010 request of the Dutch Episcopal Conference and the Dutch Religious Conference, reported on its inquiry into abuse cases from 1945 to 2010 affecting children entrusted to the care of the church in the Netherlands.[91]

Archdiocese of Utrecht[edit]

Diocese of Den Bosch[edit]

Father J. Ceelen, pastor of the parishes of Lieshout and of Mariahout (municipality of Laarbeek) quits his post after allegations of sexual abuse on 1 September 2005.[92]

Diocese of Roermond[edit]

Father H.H.M. Jansen is denounced for sexual abuse during his activities as military pastor and as a faculty member of the seminary of Rolduc.[93]

Diocese of Rotterdam[edit]

  • On 14 May 1998 damages of € 56.800 were paid by the diocese of Rotterdam to the victim of sexual abuse by a diocesan priest in order to avoid civil prosecution.[94]
  • From 2008 until 2010, an Irish priest named Oliver O'Grady, sexually abused more than 20 boys and girls, at the Heilig Hartkerk of the Christus onze Verlosser-parish in Rotterdam. He used the pseudonym of Brother Francis and was recognised as the previously convicted child molester O'Grady by parishioners after seeing the Oscar-nominated television documentary Deliver Us from Evil.[95][96][97]

Salesians[edit]

In February 2010 the Salesians were accused of sexual abuse in their juvenate Don Rua in 's-Heerenberg. Salesian bishop of Rotterdam van Luyn pleaded for a thorough investigation.[98]

Norway[edit]

Territorial Prelature of Trondheim[edit]

Georg Müller SS.CC., a former Catholic Bishop of the Roman Catholic Territorial Prelature of Trondheim in Trondheim, Norway, has admitted to sexually abusing an altar boy in the 1980s when he served as a priest there. Mueller, who retired as bishop in 2009, said there were no other victims.[99][100]

In the end of April 2010 Norways catholic church reported pedophilia cases has risen to 18 cases.[101]

Poland[edit]

Archdiocese of Poznan[edit]

In March 2002 Archbishop Juliusz Paetz quit following accusations, which he denied, of sexually molesting young priests.[54]

Archdiocese of Warsaw[edit]

Diocese of Plock[edit]

In early 2007, allegations surfaced that former Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus was aware that several priests in his former diocese of Plock were sexually abusing minors.[102]

Slovenia[edit]

Archdiocese of Ljubljana[edit]

Franc Frantar was detained in 2006 [103] for sexual abuse of up to 16 minors. He was later sentenced [104] to three and a half years in prison. He initially escaped persecution by escaping to Malawi to work there as a missionary, but returned to Slovenia after an Interpol warrant was issued.

Spain[edit]

  • In Christmas of 2007 the Bishop of Tenerife, Bernardo Álvarez, caused an uproar in Spain by making statements that appeared to equate child molestation with homosexuality and blamed the victims of abuse. One such statement was "There are 13 year old adolescents who are under age and who are perfectly in agreement with, and what's more wanting it, and if you are careless they will even provoke you."[105]

Society of Jesus[edit]

The Jesuits have also been affected by abuse affairs in several of their schools and congregations in the United States and Germany. The same abusive teacher in Germany had been guilty of similar crimes in Jesuit schools in Chile and Spain.[106]

Sweden[edit]

Diocese of Stockholm[edit]

One child (name and sex undisclosed) was sexually abused by a priest over several years in the late 1950s. When the child raised the issue at the time, the church protected the priest and kept the abuse quiet. The victim finally reported the abuse to the Stockholm diocese in December 2005. The victim demanded a public apology from the church. In June 2007 Sweden's Catholic church made a public apology in two newspapers. The abuse caused considerable suffering and lasting damage over the life of the victim.[107]

Sweden generally[edit]

Three other priests are confirmed abusers but a fourth suspected case is unconfirmed.[108]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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