The head of a new commission set up to investigate claims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Austria has been appointed.
Waltraud Klasnic is a former governor of the region of Styria and says she will start work with the church-funded watchdog within the next month:
“As the independent authority responsible for victim protection, I will have the right to say what I think, or talk about what I discussed and worked on with my colleagues.” she told reporters.
It comes after Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn acknowledged the Catholic Church’s guilt and asked for forgiveness.
Schoenborn has taken the lead in denouncing the scandal and demanding reform:
“We confess that we did not want to acknowledge reality, that we kept the truth secret and we covered things up so that some of us were able to carry on lying and continue with their crimes.”
Figures show more than 53,000 people left the Catholic Church in Austria in 2009, the highest number in the country’s history.
Analysts say recent developments could result in an ever higher number.