Germany's Catholic bishops are giving outside investigators access to personnel files from all 27 dioceses in Europe's widest clerical sex abuse probe. The German Bishops Conference approved the step unanimously June 20, Der Spiegel reports. The Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony, an independent center in Hanover, will get records for the past decade for all dioceses, and data going back to 1945 from nine dioceses. Supervised by the institute's retired prosecutors and judges, church workers are to search the files for possible evidence of abuse and investigate further those that seem suspicions. Questionnaires will be sent to any victims who can still be located, and victims and, if willing, perpetrators will be interviewed. The Bishops Conference says it hopes the study will explain the causes of the crimes, how the church handled them at the time and how they can be prevented in the future.