“Great and painful missing”

Mail from the highest diocesan authority: Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker of Paderborn has written a letter to the Catholics of his archdiocese deploring sexual abuse in the church and announcing prompt consequences.

In the New Year's letter, also published on the archdiocese's website, he speaks of "a great and painful miss". The results of the German bishops' abuse study published in the fall are "frightening and shameful for us," he says. None of this is to be relativized."

"Through cover-up and suppression, the church has incurred heavy guilt in this regard for decades," Becker said. The church had often failed to live up to its responsibility before God and mankind.

Intensify prevention work

A team of researchers commissioned by the bishops had found evidence in church records from 1946 to 2014 of 3.677 victims of sexual assault and on about 1.670 accused priests, deacons and religious found. The archdiocese of Paderborn recorded at least 197 victims and 111 accused clerics.

Becker announced to intensify the previous prevention work. In addition, he announced that the archdiocese has since provided the public prosecutor's office with access to all documents requested by them. The archdiocese has been cooperating with the state investigating authorities not only since the study, the archbishop emphasized.

Reflecting on the "actual mission as a church"

At the same time, Becker pleaded for a hopeful look into the new year and to reflect on the "actual mission as a church". It is important to bring people closer to a living faith in God. Becker praised the commitment of many Catholics "who keep the fire of faith alive in the parishes".

Becker, 70, has led the archdiocese of about 1.5 million Catholics since 2003. The 666 parishes are united in 111 pastoral associations.

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