CORRECTED-German Catholic bishops halt sex abuse study

(Fixes day in first paragraph)

PARIS, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Germany's Roman Catholic bishops cancelled a study into sex abuse scandals within their church on Wednesday, prompting the lead researcher to accuse them of trying to censor his findings.

Bishop Stephan Ackermann, spokesman on abuse issues for the German Bishops Conference, said the bishops had lost confidence in researcher Christian Pfeiffer and would look for another specialist to continue the study.

Pfeiffer told German Radio the bishops, who had agreed with him in 2011 to open staff files for nine diocese dating back to 1945, had begun demanding changes in the project guidelines including a final veto over publishing its results.

"We regret that this project ... cannot be continued and we will have to find a new partner," Ackermann said in a statement.

He said they could no longer work with Pfeiffer because of the way he dealt with the church hierarchy, but did not elaborate.

Catholic bishops in the United States, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands have agreed to similar investigations into the files on priests accused of molesting children, sometimes with devastating results for the reputation of their church.

Ireland was deeply shocked when inquiries conducted by the government revealed widespread abuse and a pattern of secrecy to cover them up. Three bishops had to resign as a result.

In Germany, some 180,000 Catholics left the church in protest in 2010, a 40 percent jump over the previous year, after a wave of revelations about priests abusing young boys in boarding schools and other church institutions. (Reporting By Tom Heneghan; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)