5:42:58 AM

German criminologist speaks out

Hans-Ludwig KröberProfessional criminologists seem somewhat bemused by the furore over sex abuse in the Catholic Church. A German journal of political commentary, Cicero, interviewed Germany’s most prominent criminal psychologist, Hans-Ludwig Kröber, yesterday. He is the director of the Institute for Forensic Psychiatry of the Free University of Berlin and serves on an independent panel of experts advising the Catholic Church about child abuse. 

The news magazine Der Spiegel recently revealed that 95 cases of abuse by clergy and lay people in Catholic institutions have come to light since 1995. Here is Professor Kröber’s response:

Well, if Der Spiegel comes up with 94 suspects in 15 years, for someone who knows a bit of a criminology, that’s a surprisingly small number. It means that the current risk of sexual abuse in institutions of the Catholic Church is even lower than I would have suspected. On average, about 15,000 cases of child abuse are reported to the police annually. The church itself has about 600,000 employees, or about 1.8 percent of the population. So 94 cases since 1995 seems to be a dramatic improvement of the situation since 1995. In any case more than half of sexual abuse occurs within families. This is even more true of violence. In the current debate about the Catholic Church, sexual abuse and pedagogy through corporal punishment – which was common in all schools -- are so mixed up that one has the feeling that people want to stretch the numbers.

By the way, Kröber is not a Catholic, or even a believer. But he has great respect for those faceless Vatican bureaucrats:

Actually I was raised as a strict Lutheran and now do not believe in God. When I attend a Catholic mass, which is seldom, it always seems to me to be a bit like hocus pocus. On the other hand my experiences working as an expert in the Vatican and for the German Bishops Conference have very much impressed me. I have had many opportunities to compare them with other institutions--including exchanging experiences with other scientists and research groups--and the bishops in the Vatican who deal with this matter have been the smartest and had the most awareness of any group that I have spoken to about sexual crimes.

Professor Kröber also knows a thing or two about sound bites. When asked about the link between sex abuse and celibacy, he responded: “Incidentally, from a purely statistical point of view, you are more likely to get pregnant from kissing than become a paedophile because you are celibate.”

Thanks for the tip from Hartwig Bouillon.

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