A loosely translated summary of the German Jesuit sexual child-abuse report

By Gurdur
Stranger in an Even Stranger Land
June 15, 2010

[See the German original of Ursula Raue's report.]

With thanks to Ruth Gledhill and The Times for making its existence publicised initially, and full credit to the German branch of the Jesuits for being proactive in uncovering such sexual child-abuse, but I cannot find any in-depth translation into English in any of the English-speaking media of the now completed and released report by Ursula Raue, so I am going to do a partial translation of the actual findings of that report released 27th May 2010 here myself, of which I have blogged in very short note beforehand. Here goes. My translation is only covering main points, and is not an exact translation, but is a summary of the main points instead (I will give clarifications where necessary [in italics within square brackets], noted as my own remarks). Contact me if you like for more exact translation of any passages. Please note that while I have sought to strictly stay true to the report, I have not at all translated it in full, and I have only done certain main points from it, and that in a condensed form. Please also note that the Hub and my blog are on an American server in the USA for all legal purposes, and that I give this translated summary for the purposes of fair comment.

As an atheist, it is very easy for me to be critical of Roman Catholic institutions and to be seen as biased; therefore, it is even more important for me to get all exact facts correct of what is reported insofar as possible, and to reflect that.

It is also an extremely important point to let the victims speak for themselves, and not to implicitly or explicitly claim to be speaking for them, a point that Ursula Raue makes within her report, and therefore in making a translated summary of this report, it is even more important for me to simply let the report speak for itself, and for the voices of the victims reported in it to be heard for themselves, and not through the filter of my own biases.

It is to the credit of the German branch of the Jesuits that they of their own accord had a full internal investigation conducted and then made the results public. But as is known, this is not an attitude shared throughout all the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy by far, and so some encouragement is needed by way of keeping a wider public eye on these matters, and bringing it to a wider public eye than just the German-speaking segment of the public.

Also, by doing so, it helps keep the analysis of the child-abuse scandals gripping the Catholic Church factual instead of polemical or apologetic, and so much more relevant and enabling of evidence-based conclusions.

I will point out that at certain points in my translated summary I have used more neutral language than the German original. For example, I have used "Allegations" as a word to loosely translate "Opfermeldungen" or "Opferberichte", both which would translate much more accurately as "Reports by victims". I have used neutral phrasing such as "allegations", "claimed", "accusations", and so on; this was so that I was not seen as putting in my own biases, and also for legal reasons, since I do not have access to the materials used in the making of the translated report and since any court proceedings that may eventuate from this have not yet happened, or for other reasons such as death of an accused may not happen. Please do note that the report is much more forthright in those specific instances than my own translation of it in those certain cases is; but otherwise I have been as careful as possible to faithfully give the report in accurate translation and summary. Please note that the Hub and my blog are on an American server in the USA for all legal purposes, and that I give this translated summary for the purposes of fair comment.

This particular blog post of mine only covers pages 1 through to a small part of page 8 of the report; I will do the rest and my own conclusions in further blog posts of mine.

[From page 1 of the report]

A. Preliminary Notes and B. Mission and Implementation {of the mission}

* Ursula Raue was appointed in January, 2007, by the German Jesuit branch as the person responsible for handling cases of reported child-abuse by anyone belonging to the German Jesuits. Until December, 2009, there were only isolated reports of sexual misconduct to do with Canisius Kolleg during the 1970's and the 1980's [the Canisius-Kolleg in Berlin is a high school, i.e. secondary school, run by the German Jesuit order].

Following talks with those making the reports, the suspicion mounted that there were many more cases still to be uncovered. As a result, Father Klaus Mertes [Wikipedia: Klaus Mertes], who was then and is principal of the Canisius Kolleg, wrote to all those who had passed through the school as students during the ten affected yearly intakes/age-groups. Ursula Raue made a preliminary report in February 2010.

Note that names of those accused of sexual abuse have been replaced by pseudonyms in the report.

[from page 2 of the report]
o Following the preliminary report released in February, 2010, there was a flood of new reports of sexual child-abuse, concerning in the end 205 reports concerning Jesuit-run institutions and another 50 reports to do with other (mostly Catholic) institutions.
o The reports to do with Jesuit institutions had to do with the Canisius Kolleg in Wikipedia link for Berlin Berlin, the Sankt Blasian Kolleg [the Kolleg St. Blasien is another Jesuit high school, in the southern Black Forest region], the Aloisius Kolleg in Wikipedia link for Bonn Bonn [the Aloisiuskolleg is another high school run by the Jesuits], the Sankt Ansgar school in Hamburg [the last Jesuit priest/teacher left the Sankt-Ansgar-Schule in 1993, however it is still run along Jesuit lines by the Katholische Schulverband Hamburg, the Catholic School association of Hamburg], various institutions for youth in Wikipedia link for Hanover Hanover and in Wikipedia link for Göttingen Göttingen, and the Immaculata Kolleg in Büren, Westphalia [a high school formerly but no longer since 1981 run by the Jesuits].
o Ursula Raue wrote to the two Jesuit priests, Father Anton and Father Bertram [apparently pseudonyms], concerning the allegations about them.
Investigations are proceeding concerning 12 Jesuit priest/teachers, 6 of whom have apparently died in the meantime, and 2 further persons, all of whom have been accused by more than one person of either misconduct [apparently meaning here sexual child-abuse] or of violence or both, or of knowing of and/or abetting such deeds at the time they happened. Another 32 Jesuit priest/teachers and/or lay staff have been accused by one person each.

[from page 3 of the report]
C. The investigations made for this report:

1. Canisius Kolleg, Berlin:

1. Father Anton
Born in 1941, completed his secondary schooling in Canisius Kolleg, Berlin, then became the teacher for Religion in the Canisius Kolleg, Berlin, and the leader of the school branch of the youth organization GCL [Gemeinschaft Christlichen Lebens]. He then later moved to Wikipedia link for Göttingen Göttingen, where he was also Religion teacher and leader of youth organization in Göttingen. He was removed from the Jesuits in August, 1995, and was then employed by the Wikipedia link for Hildesheim Hildesheim diocese of the Roman Catholic church.

Accusations have been made about the conduct of Father Anton in the Canisius Kolleg, Berlin, by 41 different people, and another 3 persons have made allegations concerning the conduct of Father Anton during his time in Göttingen, after the period at the Canisius Kolleg.
* The allegations include that he compelled youths to answer questionnaires about their intimate sexual behaviour, and that those questionnaires included illustrations of the naked human body, whereby the youths were compelled to answer what feelings were aroused in them by the illustrations.
[from page 4 of the report]
* And the accusations included the allegation that Father Anton would carry out compelled conversations with youths singly over their autoerotic and sexual experience.

The victims report that:
o Father Anton carried out such conversations with each youth alone;
o and that he forced them to sit on his lap during those conversations;
o that the victims were compelled to grip Father Anton;
o that the victims were forced to masturbate while with Father Anton;
o and that Father Anton appeared to be sexually aroused himself;
o that the whole proceeding was carried out behind closed doors;
o and that the youths were coerced never to speak about those actions of Father Anton's.

Following pressure from parents and a letter of 28th May, 1981, signed by eleven students of both genders, and following an internal memo of 19th August, 1981, from the then principal of the school, Father Fischer, Father Anton was then dismissed from the school.

The then school-principal, Father Fischer, says in 07th May 2010 [in response to Ursula Raue?], that it had become clear for him then back at that time that Father Anton had no place in work with youth or in schools. Father Fischer writes:

"An eine Nachsorge für die Schüler, an pädagogische und seelsorgerische Hilfen dachte ich allerdings nicht. Heutige Erkenntnisse, dass sexuelle Misshandlungen langwierige Verletztungen nach sich ziehen und meist kostspielige Therapien nötig machen, waren mir in ihrer Gewichtigkeit damals fremd. .... Nicht erst heute bedauere ich jedoch, dass unsere Provinzleitung Pater Anton nicht konsequent und ohne Zeitverzug aus der Schul- und Jugendarbeit nahm".

[Translated, this means:

"I did not at the time think about educational and counselling help for the students. Today's knowledge, that sexual abuse leads to longterm traumas and mostly makes expensive therapies necessary, were in their importance unknown to me back then. .... Not for the first time these days I regret, that our {Jesuit} Provincial directorship did not consequently and without time delay take Father Anton out of school and youth work".]

[from page 5 of the report]
In April 1982 Father Anton was then sent to Göttingen, without any apparent exact information being passed on as to why he had been removed from his position in Berlin. In 1988, Father Anton was sent to Mexico for a year; his substitute in Göttingen for that time raised massive criticisms about Father Anton's previous behaviour in Göttingen, including allegations concerning Father Anton's management of finances and food materials, and allegations that Father Anton had touched physically intimately three girls.

Following Father Anton's return from Mexico, the person in charge of the Jesuit Province in which Göttingen was, Father Höfer, ordered that Father Anton not be allowed to work in any field of youth counselling again - apparently, Father Höfer barred Father Anton from working with youth again, despite Father Höfer's action being against actual protests by some parents and some youth at the time. Father Höfer has declared [to Ursula Raue or to others?] that, in the course of his following all procedures in barring Father Anton from working with youth, it was only then he learnt that Father Anton had been sent to his district from Berlin because of previous allegations there of sexual abuse of children there.

Following this, Father Anton was sent to be a priest in the "Guter Hirte" ("Good Shepherd") parish in Hildesheim. In April 1995, Father Anton was removed from the order of Jesuits completely. He then took up work in the Catholic bishopric/diocese of Wikipedia link for Hildesheim Hildesheim.

Father Anton eventually replied to a letter sent on 18 January 2010 to him by Ursula Raue, and Raue held discussions with him on 27 January and more in April, 2010. In those discussions, Father Anton claimed his work with youth in Canisius college had been widely praised. Father Anton also claimed that there had been anger with parents, but only because youths had masturbated during camps and trips for students from the college, and Father Anton claimed to have spoken with them about that to ask them not to do it.

2. Father Bertram
* Born in 1946, Father Bertram joined the Jesuit order in 1964. After his study, he became geography teacher and then later German and Religion teacher, and responsible for youth work, all in the Canisius college, Berlin.

From 1979 to 1982: teacher for German, Religion and sport at the Sankt-Ansgar school in Hamburg.

From 1982 to 1984: teacher for German, Religion and sport at the Sankt Blasian school in the southern Black Forest region.

In 1991, Father Bertram applied to be allowed to leave the Jesuit order [i.e. presumably to be released from his vows]. In November, 1992, he was released from the Jesuit order.
[from page 6 of the report]
* Allegations:
Ursula Raue states that she has received accusations of child abuse from 40 individuals, and additionally a further 9 statements from witnesses who have named further alleged victims.
o 22 individuals make allegations of cases, and a further 4 witness accounts, of the time when Father Betram was at Canisius school in Berlin.
+ Ursula Raue writes that the same pattern of behaviour is clear in these cases. Father Bertram had hit many students on their bottoms, including 3 girls. He gave school students a supposed "choice" between beating on their naked bottoms or double the beating on their clothed bottoms. He is also reported by many of those who made the allegations to have stroked and rubbed in cream onto the bottoms of some students after beating them.
+ Ursula Raue states after confronting Father Bertram on 19 January, 2010, that Father Bertram replied that he had already confessed all in his application to be released from the Jesuit order in 1991. [Apparently] in his 1991 application, he had written:
"Im Klartext: von 1957 bis 1990 habe ich in etlichen hundert Fällen Kinder und Jugendliche beiderlei Geschlechts unter Entblösung des Gesäßes geschlagen, was von fast schmerzlosen 'symbolischen Bestrafungen' bis hin zu furchtbaren 'Schlageorgien' gehen konnte. Der Vorwand ließ sich in meist pädagogischen Kontext meiner Beziehung zu den Opfern leicht finden; die tatsächliche Möglichkeit, dazu die Vertraulichkeit und Straflosigkeit meines Tuns, garantierten mir meine Autoritätsstellung als Gruppenführer, Trainer, Betreuer und Nachhilfelehrer Jüngerer vor meinem Ordnungseintritt und meine Rolle also Ordensmann und Priester danach."

[Translated, this means:

"In clear words: from 1957 to 1990 I have in several hundred cases beaten children and school students on their unclothed bottoms, which could range from almost painless 'symbolic punishments' up to fearful 'beatings orgies'. The pretext was mostly easily found in my relationship to the victims in the context of teaching; the actual opportunity, {along with} the confidentiality and the lack of punishment for my misdeeds, was guaranteed to me by my position of authority as group leader, trainer, custodian, and tutor to children, before my entry into the Jesuit order, and afterwards in my role as Jesuit member and priest".]
+ Father Bertram then describes how already in 1964 as a novitiate he reported to his novitiates director, Father Günter Soballa (SJ) [SJ stands for Wikipedia link for Society of Jesus Society of Jesus, the Jesuits], about it all [apparently meaning his emotional and perhaps his behavioural problems]. Father Soballa advised him to rely on the grace of God. Father Bertram then tried speaking with Father Soballa a few more times, but claims he was not so seriously taken. However Father Sobella did in fact send him to a psychologist in 1971 in Frankfurt, but Father Bertram only went for one appointment and did not turn up at any more appointments.
[from page 6 and then page 7 of the report]
+ Father Bertram then started hiding all the issues from the local responsible Province director of that time. In March, 1973, just 3 months before taking apparently his final vows, he brought up the problems with the person immediately responsible for him, who is said to be also a psychiatrist and psychological advisor for the general of the order [unclear here as to whether the SJ Superior General or a vicar general]. Father Bertram claims he asked this advisor if he should not bring up all his problems with the responsible Province director [termed the Provincial Superior, generally called the Father Provincial], and he claims he was told in reply, "Besser nicht: so kurz vor der Weihe bringt das nur alles durcheinander. Im Übrigen, hab' Vertrauen in die Weihegnade".

[Which, translated, means:

"Better not: so soon just before the consecration {of the new priests including Father Bertram}, it will only mix things up. For the rest, have faith/confidence in the grace of the consecration {of becoming a priest}".]
+ He claims that in June 1978 his state of mind was so disturbed over his emotional and behavioural problems that he did anyway consult with the then principal of the Canisius college, Rolf Pfahl, and with the then Province director, Johannes Günter Gerhärtz. Shortly afterwards he began a therapy program with the psychiatrist and therapist Dr. Ulrich Niemann (SJ) in Essen.
+ He then states in July 1979 he began a comprehensive analytical therapy with Dr. Scharfenberg in Kiel. Parallel to that he was moved to the Sankt-Ansgar school in Hamburg.
o There are reports of six individual accusations concerning the time of his work in Hamburg from 1979 to 1982.
+ Father Bertram found his time in Hamburg difficult. It is claimed that the principal of the St. Blasien college invited him to work there, so Father Bertram accordingly left Hamburg to go work in the St. Blasien school [in the southern Black Forest region], and he also ended his therapy in Kiel, and he began a new therapy with Dr. Auchter in Freiburg.
o From the period in St. Blasien, 12 alleged victims have made reports of abuse, and another 5 former students have reported of another 5 alleged victims [all reported to Ursula Raue]

According to the claims of Father Bertram, the three therapy programs he undertook did not significantly better the situation. Eventually he was sent to work in Chile for a while, where his behaviour repeated itself with youth and children there. When it almost came to an open scandal, he began his fourth therapeutic program in Santiago (Chile). During this time he claimed to have fallen in love with a woman. He applied to be released from his vows and released from the Jesuits [in German, Laisierung, meaning laicization, being made laity instead of remaining a priest]. After his application was granted, he married the woman.
[from page 7 and then a tiny part of page 8 of the report]
o Reaction from the order of Jesuits:
Father Alfons Höfer (SJ), who was the then Province director who carried out the personal questioning of Father Bertram in the beginning of 1992, says to this that:

"Erst in der von [Father Bertram] self-written Begründung für sein Laisierungsgesuch wurde mir klar, um welche Probleme es sich bei ihm handelte. Da ich jedoch als Provinzial an die strenge Geheimhaltungspflicht gebunden war, sah ich keine Möglichkeit mich von mir aus an mögliche Opfer zu wenden. Heute wird diese Geheimhaltungspflicht anders beurteilt. So kann ich sagen, dass ich auch hier die Opfer zu wenig im Blick hatte. Aus heutiger Sicht hätte ich damals unmittelbar nach Kenntnis der Darlegungen von [Father Bertram] versuchen müssen die Namen der Opfer zu erhalten und mich mit ihnen in Verbindung zu setzen. Dass ich dies nicht getan habe, bedaure ich sehr und bitte heute die Betroffenen um Verzeihung."

[Translated, this means:

"{It was only} first with the self-written statement of grounds from {Father Betram} for his wish for his laicization appeal {his desire to be released from being an SJ priest} when it became clear to me what problems were affecting him. Since I was however as Province director {note: I have translated "Provinzial" as Province director here throughout, since I am not sure what the correct formal term for the rank is in English} was bound by the strict demands of duty of confidentiality, I did not see any opportunity for me to contact the possible victims myself. These days the duty of confidentiality is interpreted differently. So I can say, that here too I had too little view for the victims. From today's perspective I should have tried immediately, after getting to know of the statements by {Father Bertram}, to get the names of the victims and to have undertaken contact with them myself. That I did not do this, I regret very much and I request those affected for pardon".

This particular blog post of mine only covers pages 1 through to a small part of page 8 of the report; I will do the rest and my own conclusions in further blog posts of mine.


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