Bishops reject criticism of new abuse commission

Bishops reject criticism of new abuse commission

German Bishops' Conference establishes advisory council for affected persons © shutterstock

The body that decides on the amount of payments to victims of abuse in the Catholic Church is a result of the suggestions of the so-called MHG study, it was said to the Catholic News Agency.

The Catholic German Bishops' Conference rejects criticism of the Independent Commission for Acknowledgment (UKA) it has newly established. The study presented in 2018 by researchers from Mannheim, Heidelberg and Giessen (MHG) examined the extent of abuse in the Catholic Church in Germany between 1946 and 2014 and made recommendations for prevention and further processing.

Church could not regain credibility and trust

On Tuesday, the bishops' conference had announced the creation of UKA and a new order governing the process for compensation payments. According to the study, these payments should generally be based on judgments of state courts on damages for pain and suffering. This results in a performance framework of up to 50.000 euros. In addition, those affected can be reimbursed for costs of therapy or couples counseling, as is already the case now.

The Mannheim psychiatrist Harald Drebing, one of the authors of the MHG study, had called for this step in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" (Thursday; Wednesday already online at FAZ.net) criticized as "far too late and totally inadequate.". "Without structures that are completely independent of the church, it cannot regain its credibility and the trust of those affected," said Drebing.

Financial measures are only one element

In addition to the MHG study, the Bishops' Conference is guided, among other things, by the Joint Declaration signed in June between it and the Federal Government Commissioner for Abuse, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, said Bishops' Conference spokesman Matthias Kopp on Thursday to the Catholic News Agency (KNA). The commission lays down "binding criteria and standards for an independent investigation of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Germany".

Kopp further emphasized: "The recognition of injustice and suffering is only one element that, together with other measures in the area of individual and institutional processing of sexual abuse, expresses that the Catholic Church ames responsibility toward those affected."

The new order comes into force on 1. January in force

Regarding the actual procedure, the spokesman for the Bishops' Conference went on to say: "Decisive for determining the amount of benefits are the representations of those affected, which are listed in the application form."Any follow-up inquiries could be made by UKA "to the appropriate contacts or church institutions".

If the members of the commission or the office wanted to address the public, there were no restrictions – contrary to Drebing's criticism. It is planned that the committee will prepare an annual written report on its activities, which will also be published: "Beyond that, the UKA will not receive any instructions from the German Bishops' Conference on how to structure its public relations work."

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