Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Wednesday for a full investigations into the widespread sexual abuse scandals shaking the German Catholic church, while a renowned theologian called for the pope to apologize, DPA reported.
"There is only one way for our society to deal with these cases, and that is: truth and clarity about everything that happened," the chancellor said.
In recent weeks more than 150 cases of sexual abuse at Catholic institutions have emerged, dating back to the 1950s, as both victims and perpetrators have come forward with new cases on an almost daily basis.
Merkel said of the abuse victims: "Their lives run differently than if they had not had the experience in their early years. It accompanies them throughout life."
"There never will or can be complete recompense," Merkel told parliament, adding that questions about compensation and statutes of limitation needed to be addressed.
"It is a challenge for our entire society that people who experienced this should feel accepted and looked after in this society," Merkel said.
Because many of the abuse cases occurred so long ago, legal experts said it was doubtful they could be brought to court.
The chancellor welcomed the creation of a government forum to address the issue, and said abuse was not limited to any one group, even if the current cases had occurred within the Catholic church.
"It is something that has happened in many areas of society and especially something that still occurs, partly in a different manner but with the same consequences," the chancellor said.
Meanwhile, theologian Hans Kueng demanded that Pope Benedict XVI make a personal admission of guilt for the sexual abuse cases.
Kueng said the German-born pope, former Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, carried responsibility for the fact that the abuse cases had been kept quiet for decades, protecting priests but causing the affected children to suffer.
"Truthfulness would demand that the man who for decades carried the main responsibility for the worldwide cover-up, Joseph Ratzinger, speaks his own mea culpa," the Tuebingen-based theologian wrote in daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.