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Germany wants Catholic clarity on abuse cases
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany called on Sunday for a zero tolerance approach to child abuse and sought more clarity from the Catholic Church on the issue after fresh charges emerged last week of priests beating and sexually abusing boys.
Germans were shocked by revelations last month of abuse at Jesuit schools, and the scandal grew when the Church on Friday revealed charges of priests beating and sexually abusing boys in at least three schools in Pope Benedict's native Bavaria.
Education Minister Annette Schavan said she would meet top education officials in the coming days to discuss measures to tackle the abuse, news of which has rocked the Church just as it reels from paedophilia cases in Ireland and the United States.
"Wherever in schools the suspicion exists of abuse and violence towards children and young people, there must be zero tolerance and full clarification," Schavan told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Bishops Conference, apologised last month for sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests after more than 100 such cases were reported in elite Jesuit boarding schools around the country.
There had been little abuse known in the pope's native Germany until earlier this year. Zollitsch is due to travel to Rome on Friday to discuss the scandal with the pontiff.
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger repeated her call for round table talks to address the issue, though Zollitsch rejected this idea last month and accused her of bashing the Church.
"The daily revelations of child abuse are shocking," Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told the weekly Welt am Sonntag.
"Particularly in cases in which the legal process is no longer possible, a round table can open a dialogue at the request of the victim," she said.
Some previous abuse charges have been investigated in Germany but no action taken because the statute of limitations had run out. The Church said it would support efforts to bring clarity to abuse scandals.
"We will do everything possible as regards clarification and prevention," Bishop Stephan Ackermann, the German Bishops Conference point man on the abuse scandal, told Bild am Sonntag.
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