"We Want to Uncover the Truth... The Victims Have a Right to It"
No Vatican statement was released, but Zollitsch briefed reporters after the 45-minute audience:
Benedict XVI listened "with keen interest, great sadness and deep emotion” to the leader of the German Churches’ report on the situation of the Catholic Church in Germany where more than 100 reports have emerged of abuse at Catholic institutions.For the record, unlike the pontiff's twin sessions with leaders of the Irish bench following the release of state inquiries on the history of abuse there there last year, this morning's audience had already been scheduled for routine matters.
Meeting with journalists... Archbishop Zollitsch said "I felt it important to make clear that the German bishops are deeply shocked by what was possible within the church to attack [it]. Already a few weeks ago I asked the victims for forgiveness. I repeat that again here in Rome. "
Zollitsch expressly reaffirmed the will of the bishops to cooperate with government investigators.
"I informed the Holy Father of the measures which we are adopting and I am grateful to him for encouraging me to continue with the adoption of these measures in a decisive and courageous manner. We want to uncover the truth ... even in those cases which happened long ago. The victims have a right to it".
The church on its own initiative has informed the law enforcement authorities of the abuse cases, unless the victims expressly declared otherwise. A special church investigation had no influence on the state investigation was still on the support of state prosecution.
The heads of the major episcopal conferences -- the Germans, Americans, Italians, and the Latin American mega-conference CELAM, among others -- visit the Holy See twice a year to brief the Pope and the leaders of the Roman Curia on the issues facing their respective churches.