Pupils "sadistically tormented" at German monastery

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Reuters

Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:00pm EDT
  
 
BERLIN

BERLIN (Reuters) – Children were “sadistically tormented and also sexually abused” at a Catholic monastery in Pope Benedict’s native Bavaria, according to a new report commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church.

A lawyer investigating accusations of abuse in a Benedictine monastery school in Ettal presented a final report to the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising Monday, including 173 pages of victims’ accounts of abuse.

“My investigations quite clearly show that for decades up until around 1990, children and adolescents were brutally abused in the Ettal monastery,” Thomas Pfister said in a statement.

“The number of victims’ accounts has increased significantly since the intermediary report of March 5,” added Pfister, who said last month that hundreds of pupils had been beaten and some sexually abused at the school.

An archdiocese spokesman said he could not comment on the specific number of victims before a news conference Tuesday.

A growing sex abuse scandal has rocked confidence in Germany’s Catholic Church.

A survey published Monday found that a quarter of the country’s Catholics were considering quitting the church in the wake of reports of hundreds of cases, some many decades old, of sexual abuse by clerics.

In Pfister’s report last month, the lawyer said there had been very extreme cases of mishandling at the school in Ettal in southern Bavaria which would normally have been punished with long prison sentences.

He also said that one monk now dead had committed “serial sexual harassment and sexual abuse on small and older children.”

Last week, clerics in Germany used Easter sermons to pray for the victims as public sentiment against the Church turned decidedly negative. Thousands quit the Church in the last month.

A victim hotline set up last week in a bid to win back trust by Stephan Ackermann, Bishop of Trier and the Church’s expert on abuse, was swamped with 12,293 calls in its first week and was briefly shut down. Only calls from 2,670 could be answered.

Archdiocese Vicar General Peter Beer said Monday the Ettal monastery was setting about the difficult process of dealing with its past in an open and “impressive way.”

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Charles Dick)

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