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Page last updated at 03:34 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 04:34 UK

Germany's Catholic Church launches sex abuse hotline

Protesters in the southern German city of Freiburg, 22 February 2010
The sex abuse allegations have drawn protests in Germany

The Roman Catholic Church in Germany is launching a telephone hotline for victims of sexual abuse.

The helpline will be run from the western city of Trier. Its bishop has been appointed to handle any allegations made against clergy.

Hundreds of people have come forward saying they were abused by priests as children between the 1950s and 1980s.

The Pope has been accused of failing to act against a suspected sex abuser when he was archbishop of Munich.

The scandal has so far affected two-thirds of German dioceses, and the head of the country's Catholic Church has apologised over the accusations.

The BBC's Oana Lungescu in Berlin says the Church is under huge pressure to break what critics call its "wall of silence".

On Monday Trier's bishop, Stephan Ackermann, announced that 20 priests in his bishopric had been accused of abusing children since the 1950s.

He said he was stunned and encouraged victims to come forward.

Pope Benedict has promised swift action to deal with the allegations.



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