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Saturday, March 13, 2010
Child abuse claims sweep Catholic Church in Europe
DUBLIN – It often starts as a voice in the wilderness, but can swell into an entire nation's demand for truth. From Ireland to Germany, Europe's many victims of child abuse in the Roman Catholic church are finally breaking social taboos and confronting the clergy to face its demons.
Ireland was the first in Europe to confront the church's worldwide custom of shielding pedophile priests from the law and public scandal. Now that legacy of suppressed childhood horror is being confronted in other parts of the Continent — nowhere more poignantly than in Germany, the homeland of Pope Benedict XVI.
The recent spread of claims into the Netherlands, Austria and Italy has analysts and churchmen wondering how deep the scandal runs, which nation will be touched next, and whether a tide of lawsuits will force European dioceses to declare bankruptcy like their American cousins.