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New Catholic child abuse allegations surface

From Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
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Pope: 'I am truly sorry'
  • Four Catholic priests, two nuns in Germany accused of sexually abusing children
  • Five cases date from 1970s, sixth from 1984, diocese of Regensburg says
  • Hundreds in Germany claimed this year they were abused as children by clergy

Berlin, Germany (CNN) -- Four Catholic priests and two nuns have been accused of sexually abusing children in Germany's diocese of Regensburg, the diocese confirmed Monday.

Five of the six cases date back to the 1970s, while the sixth is from 1984, the diocese said. The six clergy members are all still alive. Seven people have come forward with the allegations.

The diocese said it is cooperating with the police, and two of the cases have been handed over to judicial authorities.

Hundreds of people in Germany have claimed this year that they had been abused by Catholic clergy when they were children. Some allege the abuse was sexual, while others refer to physical violence such as slapping.

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Pope Benedict XVI -- who is German -- issued a pastoral letter Saturday about child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in Ireland, but did not mention the allegations in Germany or other European countries.

German lawyers representing alleged victims say there are more than 300 cases across Germany. Some of the cases date back to the 1950s.

On Friday, a psychoanalyst told CNN that the archdiocese headed by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- who is now the pope -- ignored warnings in the 1980s to keep a molester in its ranks away from children.

Werner Huth, a psychoanalyst, said he specifically demanded that the Rev. Peter Hullermann never be allowed to interact with kids again. But instead, Huth said, the church allowed the priest to return to work and even deal with children.

In 1986, the priest was convicted of abusing minors. He was sentenced to 18 months incarceration, which under German law he was able to serve on probation without going to jail. He also paid a fine of 4,000 deutschmarks (about $2000 at the time).

Afterward, he resumed work in the church and continued to work with children. Hullermann was suspended early in March as information about his past came to light.

Huth, who says he regularly did psychoanalytical evaluations for the Catholic church, said he does not believe Pope Benedict XVI was ever aware that Hullermann had been returned to service. But Huth said he warned other church officials about Hullerman's pedophilia many times.

Huth told CNN that Hullermann was in therapy at his practice from 1980 to 1992.

Allegations of child abuse by Catholic clergy have also been reported in the Netherlands and Austria, in an echo of the scandal that shook United States dioceses from Boston to Los Angeles starting a decade ago.