German church drops sex abuse investigation; independent researcher claims church interference

Details, from AP: 

Germany’s Roman Catholic Church said Wednesday it has called off an independent institute’s investigation into sexual abuse by clergy over several decades. The lead researcher complained that the church wanted too much control over his work.

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, including material from church archives.

It was part of efforts to address the scandal triggered by revelations of abuse of children and youths in Germany, Pope Benedict XVI’s homeland, and elsewhere.

However, the German Bishops Conference said “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 he said was unacceptable.

A statement from Bishop Stephan Ackermann, the church’s point man on combating abuse, said that Pfeiffer’s “way of communication with church officials” had made “further constructive cooperation” impossible. It did not elaborate.

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