The Society of Jesus, the order of Catholic priests also known as Jesuits, admitted on February 1 that boys had been sexually abused at its secondary schools in three countries and that it covered up some 25 years ago. Rev. Stefan Dartman SJ, superior of the order in Germany, spoke in Berlin after a former sex abuser and sports coach who left the order in 1991 went public with an admission that he forced boys to have sex at a boys school in Berlin from 1975 to 1983.
Rev. Dartmann disclosed that the same teacher had been guilty of similar abuses Jesuit schools in Spain and Chile. Rev. Dartmann criticized his predecessors for not making the cases public. In Germany, the abuses happened in five different towns. "We realize with horror that these matters were evidently perceived differently in the 1970s, 80s and 90s," Dartmann said.
"I apologize for the failure back then of the order's superiors to properly and closely scrutinize what happened and respond appropriately," said Rev. Dartman, in reference to former pupils, their parents and the rest of the teaching staff at the schools. The Jesuits have long been known for their close relationship to the papacy, its defense of the Catholic Church, and its worldwide network of schools and universities.
Rev. Dartmann averred that sex abuse occured in the 1970s and 1980s in Berlin, Hamburg, St. Blasien, Goettingen and Hildesheim. The self-confessed abuser taught at three of the colleges.
Now aged 65, the offender left the Jesuits and now lives in Chile and has written a letter of apology to several victims. Prosecutors said the crimes appeared to have happened too long ago to bring charges.
Around 22 boys are believed to have been victims of the predatory sports teacher and a second Jesuit teaching priest at the Berlin college.
"As provincial superior I don't want anything to be concealed," Dartmann said. "But I don't think it's my role to publicly sit in judgement on these brothers." Dartmann thanked the victims for speaking out.