“Crisis of confidence of the most extreme proportions”

Franz-Josef Overbeck, Bishop of Essen © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

After publication of abuse study, Essen's Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck calls for significant changes in the Catholic Church. The latter is experiencing "a crisis of confidence of the most extreme proportions," the Ruhr bishop said in Mulheim an der Ruhr.

Questions about the church's view of homosexuality, celibacy, abuse of power and the role of women must be posed and answered anew, Overbeck said at a panel discussion, according to information from the diocese Wednesday. Two of the authors of the study on abuse commissioned by the Catholic bishops also took part in the discussion. They recommended that the church have "extensive discussions" about compulsory celibacy for priests and "the diversity of sexual forms of life and expression". The "pushing away" of certain forms of life, such as homosexuality, favors their abusive expression.

"We need to work on what newer findings in, for example, biology, psychology or medicine mean in very real terms for our church," the bishop said. "We are only at the beginning."He demanded that sexuality and eroticism should be a more intensive topic already in the priest education. For clerics, the danger of abuse of power is very great.

More attention paid to priests than to victims

In the past, "the Church has been guilty of paying more attention to priests than to victims," Overbeck said. Today, the focus is on looking at those affected, as well as jointly coordinating the approach with them, explained the prevention officer of the Ruhr bishopric, Andrea Redeker.

According to the study, there have been 3 in Germany in recent decades.677 victims of sexual assaults of at least 1.670 priests. Most of the victims recorded between 1946 and 2014 were male minors; more than half were younger than 14 at the time of the crime.

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