Scandals have scared off new recruits, Germany's top Catholic says
Aug 1, 2010, 15:06 GMT
Freiburg, Germany - A string of sex abuse scandals in the German Catholic church has led to a dramatic fall in the number of young men wanting to become priests, Germany's top Catholic bishop said Sunday.
Speaking to the German Press Agency dpa, Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch, who is the Chairman of the German Episcopal Conference and thus spokesman for the church, said that the church was now suffering from a serious lack of manpower.
'We are living through a great trauma, indeed the deepest crisis of the Catholic church in Germany since 1945,' Zollitsch said.
Sexual abuse scandals have rocked the church in Germany since January, when dozens of cases emerged involving sexual molestation of minors by priests and other clergy over a period of 50 years at church-run schools.
Zollitsch said that new applications to join the priesthood across had fallen to 150 this year, a record low.
The archbishop himself had been under investigation earlier this year over claims that he had failed to sack a priest in his diocese accused of abuse.
'The whole profession has been damaged by these scandals,' he said.
'The sinful and abhorrent behaviour of a few priests has come to represent the whole profession in the eyes of the public.'
Zollitsch said that the rate of intake of applying priests had also fallen, because the church was now selecting candidates more carefully than ever before.
Intensive interviews are now being carried out to test the suitability of new candidates.
'In these discussions it is tested if the interested party has the right motivation, the communication skills, and the maturity, to take this path,' Zollitsch said.