Ten accused at German Catholic boarding school (2nd Roundup)
Mar 5, 2010, 16:28 GMT
Munich - Ten priests at a Catholic Church boarding school in the Alps have been accused of sadistic beatings or making advances on boys, a lawyer appointed to check sex abuse down the decades at the school said Friday.
The church in Germany has been shaken by weeks of disclosures of sexual molestation or sadism in its schools.
Thomas Pfister, a lawyer appointed by church authorities as a special investigator, said 10 priests at Ettal Abbey School, just up the road from the site of this year's Oberammergau Passion Play, had been named to him as sadists or sexual predators.
One former Ettal teacher had said the predators not only targeted the boys but young priests too.
Pfister said 100 boys may have been victims and the school had had a 'cover-up mentality,' but he added the offences were by just a few individuals. 'To imagine the abbey as a community of sadistic raping monks would not be accurate,' he said.
Most of the cases were decades ago, but Munich police are investigating one current Ettal teacher-priest who is alleged to have posted on gay websites his own photos of schoolboys with bare chests during hikes in the Alps.
Even a boarding school which was once headed by Georg Ratzinger, brother of Pope Benedict XVI, has confirmed that two of its senior teachers were jailed, in 1958 and 1971, for paedophile sex.
Both, now dead, taught at the Regensburger Domspatzen boarding school, which educates the children who sing Regensburg Cathedral's boys' choirs. The cases were reported in the press at the time, but then forgotten.
On Friday a Vatican spokesman said the Holy See is 'taking very seriously all aspects of the paedophile scandal in Germany'.
However, Father Ciro Benedettini said the Vatican does not intend to intervene directly in the case of the Regensburger Domspatzen School.
The sex abuse scandals are expected to dominate the agenda when Benedict XVI receives Germany's top Catholic cleric, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, for an audience on Friday, March 12.
The Domspatzen school is under the control of the director of music at Regensburg Cathedral, a post held by Georg Ratzinger, brother of the pope, from 1964 to 1994. Ratzinger, who is frail at 86, told radio he was not aware of sex abuse at the school.
An ex-pupil said a head in the 1950s was notorious for the whippings he gave pre-school boys, hitting again if they showed fear.
The Catholic Church has come under attack in Germany over allegations that senior officials failed to keep a small number of convicted paedophiles away from children right up to the 1980s.
Nationwide, more than 150 other people have contacted church-appointed lawyers, describing incidents including gropings, canings and rape at various church schools. Almost all the cases occurred too long ago to be prosecuted now.
The German bishops are now reviewing whether their 2002 guideline on sex abuse is strong enough. This says that bishops do not need to report borderline cases to police, but need only suggest to offenders that they turn themselves in.