According to a leaked report, more than 3,600 children in Germany were assaulted by Roman Catholic priests between the years of 1946 and 2014. This study was commissioned by the German Bishops Conference to look at abuse cases perpetrated by the clergy in Germany.
The study highlights the fact that victims in Germany were predominantly male and more than half of them were 13 years of age or younger. Every sixth case involved a rape, and in three-quarters of the cases the victim and perpetrator knew each other through the church.
The universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim were involved in the research, using 38,000 documents from 27 German dioceses which implicated 1,670 priests. But the report also says that its estimates represent a conservative estimate of the victims because in many cases files containing information about the accusers were "destroyed or manipulated."
"We know the extent of the sexual abuse that has been demonstrated by the study. We are dismayed and ashamed by it," said Bishop Stephan Ackermann, a spokesman for the German Bishops' Conference which commissioned the report.
He said the aim of the study was to shed light on "this dark side of our Church, for the sake of those affected, but also for us ourselves to see the errors and to do everything to prevent them from being repeated".
"I stress that the study is a measure that we owe not only to the Church but first and foremost, to those affected," the bishop added.
The Vatican is being hit by multiple reports of widespread sexual abuse by its clergy across the world. The latest report was by the U.S. state of Pennsylvania which put the number of those abused by priests at above 3,000.
In India, a nun from Kerala has accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of raping her over a dozen times over a period of two years. Others have also come forward with similar charges against the same bishop.
Amongst this deluge of sexual abuse charges against the catholic clergy, there are also allegations that Church leaders hushed up or ignored the wrongdoing. Pope Francis responded to the victims of sexual abuse in a long letter apoligising for the Church’s inaction and condemned the “atrocities of child abuse.” But many are now asking if the Vatican needs to re-haul itself to respond to this crisis.