“Missed opportunity”

After the report on sexual abuse by pastors, the Archdiocese of Berlin wants to examine how personnel managers deal with the cases. A commission set up for this purpose would be "completely free" in its work.

The Berlin Archbishop Heiner Koch affirmed this on Wednesday in an interview of the portal catholic.de.

The head of administration of the archdiocese, Vicar General Manfred Kollig, admitted in the interview that it is not yet clear "when the first results will be available and can be communicated publicly". The Berlin diocesan chairwoman of the Catholic German Women's Federation (KDFB), Barbara John, criticized that the report had not been used as an opportunity for a turning point in "how the Archdiocese of Berlin deals with those affected, with perpetrators, and with those responsible who remain silent.".

The archdiocese had partially published the expert opinion commissioned from the law firm Redeker Sellner Dahs last Friday. Not published were the largest part with information about 61 accused and statements about it – among others from the former archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, his successor Koch as well as the emeritus auxiliary bishop Wolfgang Weider and the acting auxiliary bishop Matthias Heinrich. This part of the study is now to be evaluated by a commission consisting of three representatives each of the Diocesan Council of Catholics and the Priests' Council.

Consensus would not have to be in the end

Koch explained that only after the analysis by the commission would the consequences be made public. "In the end, we do not have to be of one opinion and certainly not of my opinion," the archbishop emphasized with regard to the commission.

"If we can't agree, we also present different positions transparently."On the question of why he had not named specific names of those responsible – like Aachen Bishop Helmut Dieser his predecessor Heinrich Mussinghoff – Koch said, "There was a different commission in Aachen, and there is accordingly a different expert opinion."

Kollig also said he must continue to "ask for patience". There is still no disciplinary law in the Catholic Church. Therefore, he said, the archdiocese itself must establish standards for misconduct and the level of punishment. Which concrete responsibility the superiors of abuse offenders in the individual cases would have, is now evaluated. "The fact that people interpret this kind of diligence to us as a delaying tactic is something we can't influence," said Vicar General.

Koch and Kollig also commented on the case of a priest who had spent the night in a room with a communion child at a recreational event in 2013. "It makes me speechless that something like this is not considered completely out of the question," the archbishop said. The vicar general added that the case shows that despite prevention training, not all church employees are "sufficiently sensitized" yet.

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