Friday, March 19, 2010

Doctor Asserts Church Ignored Abuse Warnings


I need some advice.  I bought a televsion set for the first time in many years.  However, I could not get any reception until I was hooked up to a Comcast cable.  The introductory offer for six months was $29.99.


Comcast is now Xinfinity, and my bill has more than doubled. When I called and indicated I just want basic cable, the representative told me to disconnect the box I have and return it.  But I am assuming if I disconnect it , I would have no reception.  True? False?


If someone knowledgeable about his matter could explain  what I should do, please email me with advice.  Thanks.






March 18, 2010

Doctor Asserts Church Ignored Abuse Warnings


ESSEN, Germany — The German archdiocese led by the future Pope Benedict XVI ignored repeated warnings in the early 1980s by a psychiatrist treating a priest accused of sexually abusing boys that he should not be allowed to work with children, the psychiatrist said Thursday.

“I said, ‘For God’s sake, he desperately has to be kept away from working with children,’ ” the psychiatrist, Dr. Werner Huth, said in a telephone interview from Munich. “I was very unhappy about the entire story.”

Dr. Huth said he was concerned enough that he set three conditions for treating the priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann: that he stay away from young people and alcohol and be supervised by another priest at all times.

Dr. Huth said he issued the explicit warnings — both written and oral — before the future pope, then Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich and Freising, left Germany for a position in the Vatican in 1982.

In 1980, after abuse complaints from parents in Essen that the priest did not deny, Archbishop Ratzinger approved a decision to move the priest to Munich for therapy.

Despite the psychiatrist’s warnings, Father Hullermann was allowed to return to parish work almost immediately after his therapy began, interacting with children as well as adults. Less than five years later, he was accused of molesting other boys, and in 1986 he was convicted of sexual abuse in Bavaria.

Benedict’s deputy at the time, Vicar General Gerhard Gruber, said he was to blame for that personnel decision, referring to what he called “serious mistakes.”

The psychiatrist said in an interview that he did not have any direct communications with Archbishop Ratzinger and did not know whether or not the archbishop knew about his warnings. Though he said he had spoken with several senior church officials, Dr. Huth’s main contact at the time was a bishop, Heinrich Graf von Soden-Fraunhofen, who died in 2000.

Even after his conviction in 1986, Father Hullermann, now 62, continued working with altar boys for many years. He was suspended Monday for ignoring a 2008 church order not to work with youths.

The former vicar general of the Munich archdiocese did not respond to repeated attempts to contact him for comment at home. Phone calls to the archdiocese for reaction on Thursday night were not answered. On Wednesday, speaking generally about the question of Father Hullermann’s therapy, a spokesman at the archdiocese, Bernd Oostenryck, said, “Thirty years ago, the subject was treated very differently in society.”

“There was a tendency to say it could be therapeutically treated,” Mr. Oostenryck said.

Father Hullermann was transferred in December 1977 to the St. Andreas Church in Essen, an industrial city in the Ruhr region not far from where he was born in Gelsenkirchen. The three sets of parents who complained to the church said Father Hullermann had had “sexual relations” with their children in February 1979, according to a statement this week by the diocese in Essen.

In the minutes taken by the priest in charge of the parish at the meeting with the parents, he noted that in order to protect their children they “would not file charges under the current circumstances.”

For decades it was common practice in the church not to involve law enforcement in sexual abuse cases. Vowing to change that, Bavarian bishops called Thursday for strengthening the duty of church officials to report cases of abuse, and even urged a change in German law requiring them to do so.

Spared prosecution after his transgressions in Essen, which according to the statement released by the diocese he “did not dispute,” Father Hullermann instead was ordered to undergo therapy with Dr. Huth. The archdiocese said that order was personally approved by Archbishop Ratzinger.

Dr. Huth said he had recommended one-on-one sessions, which Father Hullermann refused. Instead the priest took part in group sessions, usually seated in a circle with eight other patients, who had a mix of disorders, including pedophilia. Dr. Huth, 80, said that Father Hullermann had problems with alcohol, for which he prescribed medication, but that he was “neither invested nor motivated” in his therapy.

“He did the therapy out of fear that he would lose his post” and a “fear of punishment,” Dr. Huth said.

The psychiatrist, whom Father Hullermann had authorized to report to church officials about his treatment on request, said he shared his concerns with them frequently. He said the constraints he put on the priest — that he stay away from children, not drink alcohol, and be accompanied and supervised at all times by another priest — were enforced only intermittently.

Not long after the therapy began, Father Hullermann returned to unrestricted work with parishioners. Archbishop Ratzinger was still in charge in Munich, but church officials have not said if the future pope was kept up to date on the case.

After the future pope’s departure in 1982, Father Hullermann was moved in September to a church in the nearby town of Grafing, where he also taught religion at a local public school. Two years later, the police began investigating him on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors.

The court commissioned another psychiatrist, Dr. Johannes Kemper, to examine him and write an expert opinion for the 1986 trial. “Alcohol played a big role,” said Dr. Kemper, 66, who had examined Father Hullermann in his practice for half a day. As a prelude to sexual abuse, Dr. Kemper said, “he drank, and then under the influence of alcohol he watched porn videos with the youths.”

The prosecutor’s office in Munich confirmed Thursday that Father Hullermann was convicted in 1986 of sexually abusing minors and distributing pornographic images, according to a spokeswoman for the office, Andrea Titz, and sentenced to a fine and five years of probation.

Little information is publicly available about the court proceedings. The court file was sealed after Father Hullermann’s probationary period ended. Dr. Kemper said that at the trial the victims waited outside the courtroom and came in one at a time to testify. He did not remember exactly how many victims there were, saying there were “between 5 and 10.”

The mayor of Garching an der Alz, where Father Hullermann worked for 21 years after his conviction, was sharply critical of the church Thursday for failing to inform the community of the priest’s criminal record at the time he was sent to work there, saying that they had been used “as guinea pigs.”

“Had we known, we definitely would have done something,” said Wolfgang Reichenwallner, the mayor and a friend of Father Hullermann. “We just can’t afford the risk that children in our community are put in harm’s way.”

“We got lucky that nothing seems to have happened,” Mr. Reichenwallner said.

According to the mayor and church officials, there have been no new accusations of sexual abuse since Father Hullermann’s 1986 conviction.

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


No comments: