18 Mar 2010

Catholics urge pope to speak out on sex abuse

11:56 am on 18 March 2010

Catholics around the world are urging Pope Benedict to speak out about the widening investigation into sexual abuse involving priests.

One of those priests was recently suspended from a diocese that, as a bishop, the pope had once led.

Accusations of abuse have now been made in two-thirds of Germany's 27 dioceses in recent weeks, including in Munich and Freising where Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, was archbishop from 1977 till 1982.

The Catholic Church in Germany has announced the launch of a sexual abuse hotline and suspended a priest in the pope's former diocese who was convicted of paedophilia in 1986 but remained in the clergy.

Hundreds of people have come forward in recent weeks saying they were abused as minors by priests between the 1950s and 1980s.

Similar allegations have also emerged in the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, while Ireland has been rocked by revelations about cover-up efforts by the head of the church there in the 1970s.