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Leaked report says Catholic priests abused thousands of minors in Germany

Leaked report says Catholic priests abused thousands of minors in Germany

Authors of the study also warned that the true scale of the abuse may be greater as some documents were "destroyed or manipulated".

Ackermann said in the statement that the aim of the study was to "gain more clarity and transparency about this dark side of our church, for the sake of those affected, but also to see for ourselves the wrongdoings and to ensure this can not be repeated".

The favorability rating of Pope Francis has dropped precipitously after the sex abuse scandal rocked the church. Every sixth case involved a rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, the report also reveals. Die Zeit wrote that 969 abuse victims were altar boys.

The universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim were involved in the four-year research, which implicated 1,670 priests in sexual abuse from 1946 to 2014, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday, according to the news outlet Deutsche Welle.

Predator priests were often transferred to another location, but information on their criminal history were not provided to the new site.

"I stress that the study is a measure that we owe not only to the Church but first and foremost, to those affected".

In 2010, the German church was roiled by a sex abuse scandal triggered by the head of a Jesuit school in Berlin who went public about decades-long sexual abuse of high school students by clergy.

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Only one third of those accused had to face legal proceedings by the Church and sanctions, if imposed at all, were minimal, it said, adding that 4 percent of those found to have committed sexual abuse were still working.

More than 3,600 children were sexually assaulted by Catholic priests in Germany over almost seven decades, local media reported on Wednesday (Sept 12), citing a study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference. "We are dismayed and ashamed by it", said Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier on behalf of the bishops' conference.

In a letter to priests sent earlier this week, Wuerl said he planned to meet with Pope Francis "in the near future" to discuss his possible resignation.

The report was published the same day the Vatican announced Pope Francis was calling presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention of the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

Claims of clerical sex abuse have been levelled around the world, and with them allegations that Church leaders hushed up or ignored the wrongdoing.

Last year, a world-famous Catholic choir school in Germany, the Regensburger Domspatzen school, revealed that more than 500 boys there suffered sexual or physical abuse in what victims have likened to "prison, hell or a concentration camp".