"...[O}nly through airing the events of the past and increasing transparency future abuse can be prevented."
Mar 19, 2010 05:41 EDT
Munich diocese faces "tsunami" of abuse claims
German task force uncovers shocking amount of sexual abuse
By VERENA SCHMITT-ROSCHMANN, Associated Press
Pope Benedict XVI's former diocese in Munich says it is facing new allegations of physical and sexual abuse on a daily basis.
"It is like a tsunami," Elke Huemmeler, head of the diocese's newly founded sexual abuse prevention task force, told The Associated Press.
Huemmeler estimates there are about 120 cases on the record to date, around 100 of them at the nearby Ettal monastery boarding school, run by Benedictine monks. She stresses, however, her role is not to deal with the old cases, but help set up the prevention program.
On Friday, her new Task Force on Sexual Abuse Prevention, now officially commissioned and backed by Archbishop Reinhard Marx, began its work...
When the first abuse cases broke at Ettal about three weeks ago, Huemmeler immediately sat down with four or five colleagues to brainstorm and find a way out of the "disaster", as she calls it...
Huemmeler's group reflects a belief that only through airing the events of the past and increasing transparency future abuse can be prevented.
Marx has said he wants to bring out everything into the open and also named a commission to comb through old records to find out who knew what and when.
The diocese now has three specialists to listen to and investigate victims' allegations of abuse, Huemmeler says. The third was named just this week because the workload has grown immensely in such a short time.
The first step is to take stock of what has happened, to analyze patterns and then find ways to prevent sexual abuse by making people look more closely...