CDF prefect’s approach said to have hindered abuse probes

The head of the Church’s doctrinal office has been accused of running a German diocese in a way that resulted in sexual abuse investigations being hindered.

The claim against Cardinal Gerhard Müller came from the former chairman of a lay diocesan council in Regensburg, Germany.

Cardinal Müller was bishop in Regensburg between 2002 and 2012, before he was appointed as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In an interview in the German weekly Die Zeit, former Regensburg lay diocesan council chairman Fritz Wallner described how then-Bishop Müller, and his vicar-general, Fr Michael Fuchs, during this time “systematically” prevented abuse cases from being investigated.

One example cited concerned Germany’s famous “Regensburger Domspatzen” boys’ choir.

A report this year found three times as many boys involved with the choir had been abused between 1953 and 1992 than had been reported by the diocese.

Publication of the report saw 60 more victims come forward.

Mr Wallner called for Fr Fuchs, who is still vicar-general of Regensburg, to step down.

In 2005, then-Bishop Müller disbanded the lay diocesan council, Mr Wallner said, “as he wanted to hold the reins firmly in his own hands and that proved fatal for inner-church investigation of abuse”.

When the first accusations of abuse at the Domspatzen choir were revealed in 2010, the trustees urged further investigation, Mr Wallner said, but the diocesan authorities “put the brakes on”.

“Many more victims would have been listened to then but Müller’s ‘Regensburg System’ prevented the truth from coming to light,” Mr Wallner pointed out.

Regensburg diocese is now setting up a special board, on which victims will also be represented, to discuss further ways of investigation of abuse cases.

Mr Wallner said that in 2007 then-Bishop Müller installed in a parish a priest who had been sentenced for sexually abusing minors in a previous parish.

After the priest was arrested for child abuse in this new parish, then-Bishop Müller said he had previously been assured by the man’s psychiatrist that the priest was “healed”.

Then-Bishop Muller said the priest had denied the abuse 12 times to his bishop’s face.

Mr Wallner said Müller ignored the 2002 German bishops’ conference’s guidelines on dealing with abusers.

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