Thursday, May 6, 2021

Catholic officials ask reporters to keep details of child abuse report secret

All eight of the journalists invited to the event refused to sign the agreement and walked out.

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Reporters walked out of a press conference in Cologne, Germany, after church officials asked them to sign a confidentiality agreement, reports Deutsche Welle.

The officials were meeting eight journalists on Tuesday to discuss issues around a key report on a child abuse scandal that has rocked the German Catholic church.

The reporters were asked by the officials to sign a document promising to keep the contents of the report a secret. The reporters then walked out.

The Archdiocese of Cologne had called the press conference to discuss an unpublished child abuse report.

Church officials were there to explain issues regarding the report’s methodology. These issues, at least according to Cologne Archbishop Reiner Maria Woelki, were the reason for withholding the document from the public in its current form.

The Church representatives said they would show journalists a redacted version of the document.

They also asked reporters to sign a pledge to keep the contents secret. These contents apparently included information on crimes, alleged perpetrators and implicated church officials.

“The journalist commits himself to exercise absolute silence regarding this information,” the agreement read.

All eight of the journalists invited to the event refused to sign the agreement.

Cardinal Woelki had promised an independent and comprehensive investigation into sexual abuse in his diocese two years ago. However, in October 2020, victims were told the ensuing report was not “legally watertight” and contained “inadmissible prejudices”.

The decision to withhold the document until it is reworked has already caused backlash in Germany. The law firm which drew up the report has also criticised the delay.

Woelki himself faces accusations of failing to inform the Vatican about a sexual abuse allegation.

A new version of the report is expected to be released in March.

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