According to the report, 547 pupils at one of the leading Germany’s Catholic boys choir schools were subjected to physical or sexual abuse over a 60-year period. Some of the boys likened the school to a concentration camp.
The alleged abuse, spanning several decades, from 1945 to the early 1990’s, involves 49 members of the Catholic Church at the Domspatzen choir.
The report was commissioned back in 2015, after allegation of physical and sexual abuse surfaced in 2010. The Catholic school is one of the oldest of its kind in Germany, and dates back to the Middle Ages.
The 440 pages long report describes how teachers doled out physical violence including slapping boys in the face so hard that the marks could be seen the next day. The boys were subjected to whippings with with wooden sticks and violin bows, as well as harsh beatings.
Boys who attempted escape from the “Regensburger Domspatzen”, or Regensburg Cathedral Sparrows, were hauled backed to the school, after which they were beaten and humiliated in front of other boys, according to the report.
The report also linked Georg Ratzinger, brother of former Pope Benedict XVI, with violence in the school. Ratzinger, who run the choir for more than 30 years, admitted he had slapped the pupils in the face, but said he was not aware of the brutal discipline at the school.
The investigation concluded that Ratzinger was “to be blamed especially for turning a blind eye and not intervening despite having knowledge”, but did not find evidence that he was aware of sexual abuse.
Teachers involved in the alleged abuse have been identified, but no criminal charges are expected, since the alleged crimes took place decades ago.
The victims could be offered a financial compensation of between 5,000 and 20,000 euros each by the end of this year.
The report comes at the time when the Catholic Church is already shaken by a series of child sexual abuse cases.
In February, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse found that seven percent of Australia’s Catholic priests were accused of abusing children in the six decades since 1950.
The commission revealed 4,444 victims of abuse in Catholic Church in Australia.
Reports from several other countries in Europe and North America discovered decade long practice of child abuse by Catholic priests.
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