investigated in the Catholic Church in Denmark
|nr. 10, 2012|
Christianity in Evolution
Catholic sexual abuse in Denmark
The Nature of Miracles
Theology of evolution
Investigation of sexual abuse
In May 2010 the Catholic bishop of Copenhagen
initiated an independent investigation into allegations of sexual abuse
in the church and the way the diocesan leadership has handled such
allegations. A highly respected law firm, Nyborg & Rørdam, was hired and
solicitor Lars Kjeldsen (“the Investigator”) was put in charge of the
Two years later the investigation has now been completed and a comprehensive 252 page report has been published on the internet. The investigation included all documents in the diocesan archive as well as interviews with the persons involved in the individual cases and the staff in the diocesan administration. A total of 39 cases since 1898 were identified, including a total of 51 incidents, 35 of which involved victims under the age of 18. The spectrum of allegations went from indecent suggestions or behaviour to physical assaults of a sexual nature (8 cases). Of the 39 cases, 27 (69%) were homosexual and in 36 cases the perpetrator was a priest or other cleric while in 3 cases the perpetrator was a lay person working with youth in a Church context.
Prior to 2010 the leadership in the Catholic Church in Denmark had no knowledge of the majority of cases and only a few had involved the police. Comparing the abuse incidence in the Church with the incidence in other areas (sports, schools, scouts) and the increased awareness of sexual abuse of minors since around 2000, the Investigator concluded that the Catholic Church in Denmark acted in a timely fashion when an initiative was taken in 2002 to establish a preparedness plan for Church action in case of an allegation of sexual abuse. It took, however, until 2008 before this plan was finished in a first version which the Investigator found unreasonably slow. Subsequently the plan has been expanded to include, among other things, a Code of Conduct and a section on preventive procedures in connection with selection and training of candidates for the priesthood.
The report includes a 150 page section with a
summary presentation of each individual case and incident including a
description of the handling of the case by the diocesan authorities. All
cases except one were old and beyond the statute of limitation
concerning abuse of a minor which is when the victim turns 28 years. In
many of the older cases the investigation was more or less rudimentary
because people involved had died or lost precise recollection of what
had occurred. In the less severe segment of allegations it seems at
least to this reader, that a few incidents could perhaps have been the
result of misunderstandings rather than criminal or immoral intent. This
tendency was more pronounced for heterosexual incidents than for
homosexual ones. Questions of culpability, however, were specifically
excluded from the assessment of the Investigator. While this may have
inflated the total number of incidents somewhat, other cases may still
not have been reported to the diocesan authorities or to the
Investigator, which was a criterion for inclusion.
None of the cases brought to light by this investigation has resulted in charges being raised by the police. Disciplinary actions have been taken by the Church authorities against a handful of priests.
10 June 2012
|Dr. John-Erik Stig Hansen, MD|