New standards against abuse

The Vatican has asked bishops' conferences worldwide to develop guidelines for dealing with abuse cases by May 2012. Such guidelines have existed in Germany since 2002, and were tightened last August. The Catholic News Agency (KNA) lists in a chronology important stations in the processing of the abuse scandal in the German church.



The head of the Jesuits' Canisius College in Berlin, Father Klaus Mertes, sets the ball rolling on the exposure of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The bishops set up a working group to advance an internal debate on the state of the church in Germany.
Bishops apologize at their spring plenary meeting in Freiburg over abuse cases. They adopt a four-point plan to consistently expose abuse. Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier becomes special representative for abuse cases. Hotline for abuse victims to be set up.
Bishops tighten their "guidelines on how to deal with sexual abuse". A compromise has been reached on the controversial compulsory reporting
Victim protection: If the suspicion of sexual abuse is substantiated during conversations between potential victims and the abuse commissioners, the guidelines stipulate that the information be forwarded to the state prosecution authorities.
The president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, proposes a "broad process of reflection" by bishops, priests and lay people at the autumn plenary assembly in Fulda. This should also deal with the image of the priest, the upheaval in the parishes, the responsibility of the laity, but also the language of preaching and questions of family, partnership and sexuality, they say.
The bishops present a concept for the prevention of sexual abuse. Among other things, it provides for each of the 27 dioceses to set up an office to deal with prevention ies. An extended police certificate of good conduct is required for full-time and part-time employees in children's and youth work, and the volunteers are to sign a declaration of voluntary commitment.
The Bishops' Conference presents a concept for compensating victims of sexual abuse at the Federal Government Round Table in Berlin. This includes the payment of a sum of money to be considered as "financial recognition" of the suffering inflicted. In addition, victims should be enabled to receive therapeutic help. Third, there are regulations for individual cases of hardship. Finally, bishops want to push for a "prevention fund". Concrete compensationmme is not named for the time being.
Under the title "The Way of the Church into the Future", representatives of the Bishops' Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) agree on a nationwide dialogue process. This is also to deal with the credibility crisis of the church after the abuse scandal.
For the first time, the Bishops' Conference also names a concrete sum of 5.000 euros to be paid to victims of sexual abuse in recognition of the suffering they have endured.
Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith requires bishops' conferences worldwide to develop guidelines for dealing with abuse cases. Focuses on cooperation with state judicial authorities, help for victims and prevention.

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