German cleric apologises over rape victim mistreatment

A prominent German cleric has apologized after a possible rape victim was refused treatment at two Catholic hospitals. In a statement issued last week, Cardinal Joachim Miesner expressed his “deep shame” at the hospitals’ failure to provide the 25 year old German woman with an appropriate gynaecological examination. “[I am] deeply ashamed by this incident because it goes against our Christian mission” the cardinal said.  

The incident, which occurred in December last year, involved a young woman suspected of being date-raped. An Emergency Centre doctor contacted Cologne’s St. Vincent’s Catholic Hospital and Holy Spirit Hospital to arrange a gynaecological examination for the woman, only to be told that these hospitals had a policy of not conducting examinations after sexual attacks. The hospitals were concerned that such examinations would force them to provide advice on unwanted pregnancies.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner said that there had been a grave “misunderstanding” in the hospitals. He stated that the hospitals should have provided the woman with medical help, though they would have drawn the line at treatment that would have prevented a pregnancy.

The apology comes in the wake of accusations that the Church institutions have a policy of not treating rape victims. In a statement last Thursday, the Archdoicese of Cologne said that "We regret very much that the impression has been given to the public that rape victims are no longer able to be treated in Catholic hospitals. That is false."

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