German Catholic church leaders pray for victims of abuse

President of Germany, Joachim Gauck (center) reads ‘Psalm of the Church’ during a penance service at the Latin American Church of the Angelicum Institute in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 26, 2018. (Oliver Auerbach/Pool Photo via AP)

A German bishop led a penance service on Monday at the Latin American Church of the Angelicum Institute to serve as an opportunity for the country’s Catholic leaders to speak out about the abuse scandal.

The most powerful Catholic official in Germany, Pope Francis, has been outspoken in his demand for bishops and cardinals to “step forward” in the criticism of fellow church leaders for the scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in Europe and the United States in recent years.

When Pope Francis visited Germany this past September, one of the reports that he listened to detailed the abuse of thousands of children by predator priests in three European dioceses.

Speaking at the beginning of the service, which included prayer and an act of communion, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Berlin told his fellow bishops: “Let us ask for strength of mind and of heart, so that we could do our best to protect our brothers and sisters.”

He added: “We are all aware that grave problems continue to surface in Europe and in our own country.”

Another bishop speaking at the service was that of the Cathedral of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner. “Society has unfairly questioned the power of the Church, and has singled out the particular places of authority for criticism,” Meisner said. “There is no greater condemnation than to have something like this happening on the cathedral grounds.”

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