Fulda [Germany], Sept 25 (ANI): A new study on sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests under the domain of German Bishops' Conference indicates that the problem remains largely unresolved and more than 50 per cent of the accused go unpunished.

The study -- Sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, deacons and male members of orders in the domain of the German Bishops' Conference -- conducted by the Universities of Mannheim, Heidelberg, and Giessen (MHG), reviewed 38,156 sets of personnel records and reference files from the 27 dioceses dating from 1946 to 2014. Information regarding allegations of the sexual abuse of minors was found to exist with regard to 1,670 clerics of the Catholic Church in which 3,677 children and juveniles were found to have been abused by these clerics.

The study found that 62.8 per cent of those affected by sexual abuse were male, and 34.9 per cent were female. Gender data were missing in 2.3 per cent of cases. 51.6 per cent of the persons affected were aged upto a maximum of 13 years when they first underwent sexual abuse. 25.8 per cent were aged 14 and older while the mean age of the accused persons when committing their first offence was 42.6.

It was found that the Church took action regarding 33.9 per cent of the people accused of sexual abuse of minors, while there were no proceedings launched for 53 per cent of the abusers. The information on possible penalties was missing on some of the cases. Of these 33.9 per cent against whom action was taken, 91.8 per cent of priests were transferred within their respective home dioceses.

Speaking at the press conference on the presentation of the study, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the German Bishops' Conference said on Tuesday the report makes it clear that the Catholic Church has by no means overcome the issue of dealing with the sexual abuse of minors.

"I say quite clearly: sexual abuse is a crime. Those who are guilty must be punished. For too long abuse has been denied and hushed up in the church. One simply looked away... We have not listened to the victims. All this must not remain without consequences" Cardinal Reinhard Marx said while talking about the study.

"The results of this study clearly show that we need to go further. Dealing with sexual violence in the sphere of the church continues to demand our committed and convincing action...The study makes us aware that we must continue and strengthen the course of truthfulness and our commitment to the protection of children in the manner specified by Pope Francis," Marx added. (ANI)

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