BERLIN (AP) — The head of Germany's Roman Catholic bishops has issued a statement on Good Friday denouncing past failures and mistakes in the church's handling of abuse cases.
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg says clerics have neglected helping abuse victims by a "wrongly intended desire to protect the church's reputation."
According to Zollitsch, the dean of the German bishops' conference, the news about sexual and physical abuse of children by priests and other employees leaves the church with "sadness, horror and shame."
His unusually forthright statement on the church's past policy of allegedly covering up abuse cases comes amid a widespread debate about the openness of the Vatican and Pope Benedict on the issue.
Zollitsch condemns what he calls "the appalling crimes of sexual abuse" and is urging the German Catholic church to face its painful record on the handling these cases.
He also is urging all priests in his diocese to pray during Good Friday services for abuse victims.