On Tuesday, the German Conference of Catholic Bishops began their plenary session. On the first day of meetings, president of the conference Archbishop Robert Zoellisch asked for public forgiveness regarding cases of child sexual abuse in the German Church.
Archbishop Zoellisch said he was "deeply upset" by the cases of the "repugnant crime" of pedophilia which took place in some Jesuit schools in Germany from the 70s to the 90s, L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) reported.
"I ask forgiveness in the name of the German Catholic Church of all the victims of this crime," he said in a press conference, pointing out that it is particularly grave as a violation of the special trust young people give to priests.
LOR added that the archbishop gave his assurance that cases of abuse would be reported for public prosecution, but also noted that many of the cases will have already passed the 10-year statute of limitations.
In addition, Archbishop Zoellisch spoke of the Church's need to reestablish its reputation for Catholic education and its credibility in areas such as marriage and family teaching and sexual morality.
The German archbishop echoed the recent words of Cardinal Sean Brady of the Irish Bishops' Conference, pointing out that the greatest danger of the scandals is the possibility that they might affect the resolve of church-goers, "shaking their faith and threatening their capacity to trust in God."
During the press conference, the archbishop mentioned that he will be speaking to Pope Benedict XVI about all of these issues when he meets with him next month.
The Plenary Assembly will continue through Thursday, taking on a number of themes currently affecting the German Catholic Church, including the aging population, the participation of the German army in the War in Afghanistan, vocations ministry and aid to Haiti.