Hans-Ludwig KröberProfessional criminologists seem somewhat
bemused by the furore over sex abuse in the Catholic Church. A German journal
of political commentary, Cicero, interviewed Germany’s most prominent criminal
, Hans-Ludwig Kröber,
yesterday. He is the director of the Institute for Forensic Psychiatry
of the Free University of Berlin and serves on an independent panel of experts
advising the Catholic Church about child abuse. 

The news magazine Der Spiegel recently revealed
that 95 cases of abuse by clergy and lay people in Catholic institutions have
come to light since 1995. Here is Professor Kröber’s response:

Well, if Der Spiegel comes up with 94
suspects in 15 years, for someone who knows a bit of a criminology, that’s a
surprisingly small number. It means that the current risk of sexual abuse in
institutions of the Catholic Church is even lower than I would have suspected. On
average, about 15,000 cases of child abuse are reported to the police annually.
The church itself has about 600,000 employees, or about 1.8 percent of the
population. So 94 cases since 1995 seems to be a dramatic improvement of the
situation since 1995. In any case more than half of sexual abuse occurs within
families. This is even more true of violence. In the current debate about the
Catholic Church, sexual abuse and pedagogy through corporal punishment – which
was common in all schools — are so mixed up that one has the feeling that people
want to stretch the numbers.

By the way, Kröber is not a Catholic, or even a believer. But he has great respect for those faceless Vatican bureaucrats:

Actually I was raised as
a strict Lutheran and now do not believe in God. When I attend a Catholic
mass, which is seldom, it always seems to me to be a bit like hocus
pocus. On the other hand my experiences working as an expert in the
Vatican and for the German Bishops Conference have very much impressed
me. I have had many opportunities to compare them with other institutions–including
exchanging experiences with other scientists and research groups–and
the bishops in the Vatican who deal with this matter have been the smartest
and had the most awareness of any group that I have spoken to about
sexual crimes.

Professor Kröber also knows a thing or two
about sound bites. When asked about the link between sex abuse and celibacy, he
responded: “Incidentally, from a purely statistical point of view, you are more
likely to get pregnant from kissing than become a paedophile because you are

Thanks for the tip from Hartwig Bouillon.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.