15:04 GMT29 January 2020
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    Earlier, Pope Francis extended his apologies following a grand jury report that more than 1,000 children had been sexually abused by "predator priests" in Pennsylvania over the course of decades.

    At least 3,677 cases of child sexual abuse were perpetrated by clergy across Germany between 1946 and 2014, according to a study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference.

    The victims were predominantly male and more than half of them were younger than 14, the study revealed, adding that every sixth child abuse case involved actual rape. In three-quarters of the cases, the victim and perpetrator knew each other through the church.

    READ MORE: Vatican Sees Child Sex Abuse as Sin, They Don't See It as Crime – Professor

    The study suggested that the alleged sexual abuse of minors by the German Catholic Church clergy, which first came to light in 2010, may continue nowadays.

    The authors of the survey also stressed the importance of "coordinated action" and a "long-term list of measures" which they said could add to resolving the problem of sexual abuse by priests in Germany. At the same time, the authors kept mum on the causes of the problem, but singled out the priests' celibacy vow as a potential risk factor.

    READ MORE: Australian Bishops Dismiss Demands to Change Church Rules Over Child Sex Abuse

    Bishop Stephan Ackermann said on behalf of the German Bishops Conference that "they know the extent of the sexual abuse that has been demonstrated by the study" and that they are "dismayed and ashamed by it."

    The goal of study was to shed more 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," Ackerman underlined.

    Most Twitter users have, meanwhile, expressed indignation about the study's revelations, demanding that all those accused should be brought to court.

    Late last month, Pope Francis has called to "acknowledge and condemn" multiple cases of sexual misconduct involving minors and the cover-up of abuse in the Catholic Church. The statement came in response to fresh reports of the large-scale sexual abuse of minors among the Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania, a month after the resignation of a prominent Vatican figure amid a sex scandal.

    In a letter to all Catholics, the Pontiff admitted that sex abuse in the church "was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced." While claiming that most cases in America "belong to the past," he said that the church had failed to recognize the scale of the damage.

    The letter came out after a Pennsylvania grand jury accused more than 300 priests of abusing children for decades, after an investigation, largely based on secret church archives, identified more than a thousand young victims.


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    priests, cases, child sexual abuse, church, rape, victims, study, Germany
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