Pope urged to apologise for abuse cover-up

The pope was today urged to make a public apology for the church's years of covering up sexual abuse.

German Catholics are continuing to struggle with the magnitude of abuse claims against priests; since the first victims came forward in January, at least 300 others have joined them.

Victims in neighbouring Austria and the Netherlands have also made abuse claims, triggering a crisis in the church and accusations the pontiff is avoiding comment on the issue.

"If the pope himself doesn't take a stance, apologise for what Rome has committed over the past decades in terms of cover-up - then our believers will become even more disappointed than they already are," Father Udo Fischer, who heads a parish in the Lower Austrian village of Paudorf, said.

"Jesus would certainly not have kept quiet."

Meanwhile a prominent archbishop called for justice for victims saying they need to feel they can finally speak openly about their suffering.

Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, said Catholic bishops in the southern German state of Bavaria, the pope's homeland, felt "deep consternation and shame" over the reports of abuse of children in church-run schools and institutions revealed in past weeks.

"The priority is the search for the truth and achieving an open atmosphere that will give the victims courage to speak about what happened to them," he said.

Archbishop Marx said the state's bishops had agreed to investigate each claim and would contact authorities as appropriate.

Robert Zollitsch, the head of Germany's Bishops Conference, today insisted that the pope had repeatedly made clear his position on sexual abuse.

"I know from my discussion with the pope how deeply appalled he is by the sexual abuse of children by priests, especially in Germany," he said.

The pope spoke out repeatedly against sexual abuse during his 2008 trip to the United States. He called the crisis then a cause of "deep shame," pledged to keep paedophiles out of the priesthood and decried the "enormous pain" that communities have suffered from priests' "gravely immoral behaviour."

* The pope's letter to Irish Catholics on the clerical sex abuse crisis will be released on Saturday, the Vatican said today.

The pope has said he hopes the letter will help the Irish faithful heal following years of abuse and cover-ups on the part of church leaders.

The Vatican said the text of the letter will be released on Saturday at noon (1100 GMT).

Three Irish government-ordered investigations have documented a catalogue of child abuse and church cover-ups from the 1930s to 1990s involving more than 15,000 children.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral