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Denmark's Catholic Church to probe abuse cases
By RICHARD STEED
Associated Press
2010-03-31 09:59 PM
Denmark's Catholic Church will launch an investigation next week into claims of clerical abuse dating back several decades, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The move comes after the church came under pressure from media and human rights groups to revisit allegations of sexual abuse that had not been reported to police.

Claims that priests sexually abused children at Catholic institutions have swept across Europe, and also reached the small Catholic community in Denmark, a mostly Lutheran country.

Denmark's Catholic Bishop Czeslaw Kozon was strongly criticized earlier this month after telling a Danish newspaper that the church was under no legal obligation to report suspected cases of abuse to the police.

"We have listened to our critics and next week this working group will start investigating these old sexual abuse cases," church spokesman Niels Engelbrecht told The Associated Press. "The trouble is many of the cases are 30 or 40 years old, and many of those priests accused are now dead."

Engelbrecht said the working group would investigate about a dozen cases, mostly from the 1960s and 70s. "The first case we have heard about dates back to 1890's," he said.

The working group will consist of four or five professionals, mainly non-Catholic, and will include a lawyer, a psychologist and other experts, Engelbrecht said.

There are around 35,000 registered Catholics in Denmark, which has a population of 5.5 million.

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