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3,677 sex abuse cases in German Catholic Church

3,677 sex abuse cases in German Catholic Church

The German study examined more than 38,000 personnel and reference files from 27 dioceses around the country and showed that more than half of the victims were aged at most 13 years old at the time of the crime, Spiegel reported.

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

A Church spokesman said it was "dismayed and ashamed" by the findings.

BERLIN - The Catholic Church in Germany acknowledged a "depressing and shameful" legacy of sexual abuse on Wednesday after a leaked study said clerics had abused thousands of children over a 70-year period. About one in six cases involved rape.

According to research by experts from the Universities of Giessen, Heidelberg, and Mannheim, the actual number of victims was likely much higher, as researchers were not allowed access to the original church files.

While some of the comments and statements from the Vatican since the scandal have been met with scorn, Pope Francis has since called for a meeting of Catholic church leaders to address the issue in February.

"We know the extent of the sexual abuse that has been demonstrated by the study".

Bishop Ackermann said the report had been leaked to the press before the Church itself had seen it.

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Cardinal Donald Wuerl says he is prepared to step down in the wake of an intense firestorm of criticism over his handling of sex abuse claims dating back decades.

The crisis in the Catholic church since the revelations of sexual abuse by clergy and subsequent coverup has hit the head of the church hard - at least in his favorability ratings. The German Bishops' Conference commissioned the "strictly confidential" study and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, its chairman, is expected to present its findings later this month, Spiegel said.

Deutsche Welle reported that church authorities pursued only one-third of alleged abusers.

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.

The Kentucky Attorney General wants to launch a criminal probe into allegations of Catholic clerical sex abuse.

Wuerl has faced calls to resign, including from a local deacon at St. Matthew's Cathedral and many other D.C. -area Catholics over his handling of sex abuse allegations by Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania when Wuerl was bishop there almost 30 years ago.

Pope Francis was caught up in the scandal last month, after a former Vatican diplomat accused him of ignoring allegations against a USA cardinal for five years.