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Doctor: Catholic Church ignored my warnings about child molester

From Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
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Doctor: I said to stop priest
  • Psychoanalyst tells CNN archdiocese headed by pope ignored warnings about molester
  • Rev. Peter Hullermann was convicted of abusing minors but allowed to return to work
  • Huth claims he demanded Hullermann never be allowed to interact with children again
  • Huth doesn't believe Pope Benedict XVI was aware that the priest returned to service

Berlin, Germany (CNN) -- 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, the doctor who issued those warnings said Friday.

Werner Huth, a psychoanalyst, told CNN that he specifically demanded the priest 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, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, 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 4000 deutschmarks (about $2000 at the time).

Afterward, he resumed work in the church and continued to work with children.

Hullermann was suspended last week as information about his past came to light.

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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. 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.

"I gave three preconditions for even taking him into therapy: that he stop drinking alcohol, that he find a friend who watches out for him and makes sure he sticks to the rules, and that he never in his life interacts with children again," Huth said.

Hullermann underwent group therapy rather than individual therapy because he never fully accepted that he had a problem, and Huth hoped the group dynamic might change that, Huth said. But Hullermann "never really fit into the group, because he never really admitted that he had a problem. There was some progress, but very limited."

Huth says he could not cure Hullermann, but tried to redirect his sexual desires.

Huth -- who first shared details with the New York Times -- said he last saw Hullermann on Monday of this week. Hullermann requested an emergency meeting after his story broke on international media, Huth said, adding that Hullermann looked bad, like a man who had aged prematurely.

The story of Hullermann comes amid a scandal at the Vatican.

Hundreds of alleged victims have come forward in Germany claiming priests abused them. Some allege the abuse was sexual, while others refer to physical violence such as slapping.

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

German Catholic bishops in the pope's home state of Bavaria expressed "deep shock and shame" Thursday at recent reports of abuse in their diocese.

In a statement issued at the spring conference of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, the bishops announced new measures on how to win back trust and prevent similar abuse from happening in the future.

Meanwhile, deeply Catholic Ireland has been badly shaken by a government-backed report that found the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Catholic church authorities in Ireland covered up child abuse by priests from 1975 to 2004. Child sexual abuse was widespread then, the report found.

Pope Benedict XVI has signed a pastoral letter dealing with the scandal rocking the Catholic church in Ireland, a Vatican spokesman said Friday. The contents of that letter have not been made public.