Order of “punitive measures” among altar boys

Order of 'punitive measures' among altar boys

Shadow of a cross © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

At the request of one of the victims, the diocese of Osnabruck has made public an allegation of abuse. The accused priest is already deceased and has not been allowed to celebrate since 2003.

The Osnabruck diocese reports on a new abuse allegation against a deceased priest. It refers to an incident about 40 years ago in Brogbern, Emsland, as the diocese announced on Sunday in Osnabruck. A woman affected had contacted the diocese's commissioner for victims of sexual violence and reported an assault, he said. The accused priest Franz R. Died in 2007 at the age of 86. The diocese asks other possible victims to come forward.

The congregation was informed of the accusation on Sunday in the church of St. Mary in Brogbern by the personnel officer of the diocese, Ulrich Beckwermert. A woman not living in the congregation had described to the commissioner that about 40 years ago, when she was a girl, Rev. R. had been abused. She had expressed the wish that the accusation be made public. According to the diocese, the woman was offered psychological support.

Recorded in the Abuse Study of the German Bishops' Conference

According to Beckwermert, Rev. R. among the 35 priests accused by the diocese in the abuse study conducted by the German Bishops' Conference last September.

Reason, it said, was that the clergyman had been accused by a man in 2002 of being assaultive in the late 1960s and early 1970s. According to this, the priest had not carried out the deeds himself.

Rather, it had been an order of "punitive measures" among altar boys, in particular by blows to the buttocks. The person concerned had asked at that time not to involve the public prosecutor's office, so the diocese. In 2003, the then 83-year-old priest was forbidden to celebrate church services in public.

Celebration ban since 2003

Father R. was a vicar in Melle in the district of Osnabruck from 1952 to 1955 and subsequently a priest in Brogbern until his retirement in 1995. After the ban on celebrations in 2003, the priest, who suffered from dementia, had lived in a retirement home until his death in 2007.

In recent months, the Osnabruck diocese had made public several allegations of abuse from the 1960s and 1970s, including in Merzen and Hagen am Teutoburger Wald (both in the Osnabruck district) and Meppen (in the Emsland district). Osnabruck's Bishop Franz-Josef Bode had also admitted mistakes, because priests who were suspected at the time continued to work in pastoral care in some cases.

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