The abuse investigation presented by the Catholic religious orders in Germany meets with a mixed response. While criticism comes from the victims' initiative "Eckiger Tisch", there are positive signals from politics.
The abuse commissioner of the Federal Government Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig signaled to the German Conference of the Superiors of Religious Orders (DOK) on Wednesday support for a "structured process of coming to terms with the past". At the same time, he hopes "that the DOK will receive additional strong support from the circle of religious orders and dioceses," Rorig told the Catholic News Agency (KNA).
Previously, the umbrella organization had presented the results of a survey of 392 religious congregations. This had involved 291 communities, about three-quarters of which are home to 88 percent of the current members of the order. In recent decades, there have been allegations of abuse against at least 654 religious and 58 employees. At least 1.412 children, adolescents or wards were affected by sexual assaults.
Rorig referred to the "Joint Declaration" adopted in June with the German Bishops' Conference, which is intended to improve the cooperation of church representatives, experts and state agencies in coming to terms with abuse. Religious orders have so far been left out of this agreement. Now, however, the negotiations on binding structures, standards and criteria of a comprehensive clarification and independent reappraisal, also with the involvement of the orders, "should begin quickly," Rorig demanded.
"Eckiger Tisch" criticizes
Criticism came from the affected people's initiative "Eckiger Tisch" (corner table). For far too long, most religious congregations had refused to accept responsibility. "And even now they think they have all the time in the world to first enter into talks about whether and how they want to clear up their history of violence and sexual abuse," explained spokesman Matthias Katsch.
He demanded that all records of religious congregations be secured and made available to prosecutors if there was any suspicion of child sexual abuse. "Provided that a statute of limitations is then established, which is to be expected in many cases, the documents thus secured must be forwarded to a central reappraisal commission to be set up as soon as possible."
Under no circumstances should victims be denied adequate compensation with reference to impoverished communities, Katsch stressed more. These would have to be based on the recommendations developed and presented last year by experts for the Bishops' Conference.
According to DOK Secretary General Agnesita Dobler, the religious orders are striving for a unified system together with the Bishops' Conference. However, communities needed help with funding. The bishops' concept envisages sums of between 5 and 50 percent.000 and 50.000 euros per case before.