German church, researchers fall out over abuse

German church, researchers fall out over abuse

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

An altar server prays during a mass given by Pope Benedict XVI at the Olympic stadium in Berlin on September 22, 2011, on the first day of his first state visit to his native Germany. The 84-year old pope, German born Joseph Ratzinger, has a packed program, with 18 sermons and speeches planned for his four-day trip to Berlin, Erfurt in the ex-German Democratic Republic and Freiburg. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on January 9, 2013 at 2:32 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 9 at 10:35 AM

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's Roman Catholic Church has called off an investigation by a renowned outside expert into sexual abuse by clergy over the past few decades after the two sides fell out.

In 2011, the church asked Prof. Christian Pfeiffer's Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute to analyze data on abuse from German dioceses as far back as 1945. It was part of efforts to address the scandal triggered by revelations in 2010 of abuse of children and youth in Germany, Pope Benedict XVI's homeland, and elsewhere.

However, the German Bishops Conference said Wednesday that "mutual trust is shattered" between the bishops and Pfeiffer, and it was terminating its agreement with the institute. It said it would seek a new partner for the project, without elaborating.

Pfeiffer said that researchers and church worked well together for the first few months, but then resistance emerged, starting with a call from the Munich archdiocese for the researchers "to bow to church requests for stronger controls" on their work.

A group representing German dioceses then called for the researchers' work to be submitted for pre-publication approval, Pfeiffer told ZDF television, a demand that he said was unacceptable.

A statement from the bishops' conference said that Pfeiffer's "way of communication with church officials" had made "further constructive cooperation" impossible. It did not elaborate.

Benedict, who was then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, served as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

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