A Roman Catholic priest in Germany has admitted to 280 counts of sexually abusing three boys over a several-year period.
The 46-year-old priest, who has been suspended, went on trial on Thursday at the state court in Braunschweig. The dapd news agency reported that he showed no remorse.
The man who was not identified was arrested last July after one victim told his mother what had happened. He was charged with abusing three boys aged between 9 and 15.
Hildesheim diocese spokesman Michael Lukas says the defendant’s actions were “a catastrophe for the victims and for the Catholic church.”
The trial continues through February 2.
The priest also faces church disciplinary proceedings. Germany, Pope Benedict XVI’s homeland, was shaken in 2010 by revelations of abuse by clergy going back decades.
A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police – a disclosure that victims groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of cover-up.
The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland’s first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.
The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that the church in Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations, and determine punishments, in house rather than hand that power to civil authorities.
Rev Cedric Miller, of Neptune, New Jersey, last week told 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign.
Rev Miller, 48, claimed that 20 couples from his 1,100-member church had experienced marital problems in recent months after contacting ex-partners through the site.
But over the weekend Rev Miller’s local newspaper disclosed that he “didn’t need Facebook to be part of an extramarital affair”.
It found transcripts from a criminal trial against the church assistant in 2003, in which details emerged of what Rev Miller has since called “a very painful part of my past”.
In the case, which was eventually dismissed, he testified that his wife, Kim, had an affair with the assistant, and that he and the man’s wife were often present at their meetings.
“I mean between the four of us,” Rev Miller said. “It was just, I mean there was touching … it was crazy, it was as wrong as wrong could get.”
Asked by a lawyer whether he was talking about “sex”, Rev Miller replied: “Yes”. He described their behaviour as “beyond what was appropriate”.
Rev Miller told the court that the meetings between the couples often took place after Thursday Bible study sessions and after church services on Sundays.
He said in a statement: “This was resolved at that time and accordingly we will not allow it to detract from our mission at hand to save as many marriages as we can.”