“Duty of self-examination”

The numbers are "outrageous", writes the "Spiegel": In recent years, there have been more than 90 suspected cases of child abuse in German dioceses. The Catholic Church in Germany is "shocked". Bishops react and announce consequences. At the same time, they warn against "overreactions". A renowned criminal psychologist defends the clergy.

According to criminal psychiatrist Hans-Ludwig Krober, the figures on church abuse cases published by "Der Spiegel" show that sexual abuse is much rarer among employees of the Catholic Church than among other adult men. Krober told this site on Monday that the figures obtained by Spiegel suggest that the mindset in which priests live largely protects them from becoming offenders. Krober works as a professor of forensic psychiatry at the Berlin Charite and is co-editor of the standard work "Handbook of Forensic Psychiatry. Non-celibate men are 36 times more likely to become abusers than Catholic priests, according to Krober. In total, they say, there have been about 210 in Germany since 1995.000 cases of child abuse recorded by the police. In comparison, the number of 94 suspects within the Catholic Church, as determined by "Spiegel" in a survey, is vanishingly small. There is a danger that the Catholic Church in Germany will fall into a "self-flagellation furor" similar to what happened in the USA a few years ago, and will accept all accusations unchecked for fear of committing new injustices against alleged victims. But alleged victims also have to accept that their accusations will be examined, Krober said.

Bishops: Examine guidelines The German Catholic bishops do not rule out changes in the training and supervision of priests in view of the cases of child abuse by clergy of the Jesuit order that have now come to light. "We have to ask ourselves whether the bishops#39; 2002 guidelines on how to deal with sexual abuse by clergy are already being optimally implemented. Perhaps, despite all the progress, prevention still needs to be improved," said Father Hans Langendorfer, secretary of the German Bishops#39; Conference, in an interview with the "Frankfurter Rundschau" (Saturday). At the same time, he warned against "overreactions based on fear or resentment". So far he knows of no proposal to expand episcopal guidelines "because of fundamental flaws". According to Langendorfer, who is himself a Jesuit, the Church has a constant duty of self-examination and "must not shirk it.". However, he said he resists some voices that now want to stamp Catholic morality and the celibacy of priests as culprits in sexual abuse by clergy without a second thought. Quite obviously, according to the secretary of the bishops#39; conference, there are "spirals of silence and fear of scandals," but not only in the church, but in society as a whole. For a long time, the scope of pedophilic tendencies has been completely misjudged in society as a whole. The church has learned and wants clarification. Contact and talk with victims Now the consequences must be considered together, also in the Bishops#39; Conference, Langendorfer further explained. "We must first clarify and process what has happened." What seems urgent to him is "that we face the dark sides of the Church and yet not let ourselves be diaded from rejoicing in its good sides."Against the criticism of the celibacy he objected, this must be understood from the faith. Celibacy is not an instrument for increasing manpower or controlling one#39;s own sexuality, he says. This is being worked on in seminaries, he said. Langendorfer: "Celibacy does not create abusers. We owe it to the victims and many blameless pastors to take a thorough look instead of making hasty theses. According to the secretary of the bishops#39; conference, reparation begins with the victim#39;s opportunity "to free himself from the deep loneliness of unwanted silence about his suffering". That#39;s why contact and conversation with victims is so important for the church, he said. Reparation also begins with the request for an apology in the hope "that it will be accepted at some point". Human, therapeutic and pastoral assistance would be concrete signs of reparation. What is possible and necessary here must be examined in each individual case.

"Spiegel": survey in dioceses In its latest ie, "Der Spiegel" reports a total of 94 clerics and lay people have come under suspicion of abuse since 1995. A survey by the magazine in all 27 German dioceses had shown this. Of these suspects, 30 have been prosecuted and convicted in the past.Many of these cases of abuse, reports "Der Spiegel," were already time-barred at the time they became known. At least ten church employees are currently suspected of abuse, he said.

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