Not consensual

The "Cornered Table" initiative demands that the Jesuit Order 82.373 Euro compensation for each abuse victim. The aggrieved parties did not want symbolic but actual satisfaction for what had been done to them years ago, said the spokesman for the victims' initiative, Matthias Katsch, on Saturday evening. The meeting with responsible persons of the order could not be ended amicably.

The allegations made against the order triggered the abuse debate in Germany, which has been ongoing since January. The initiative "Eckiger Tisch" represents victims of sexual abuse at the German schools of the Jesuit order. By July, 205 former students from the '70s and '80s had come forward.

Katsch made his comments after a meeting with representatives of the Jesuit order. The amount mentioned is an average of the "pain and suffering awards for damages to the soul" set by courts in recent years, Katsch said. Provincial Stefan Kiechle, the rector of Canisius College Klaus Mertes and the director of the College of Saint Blasien Johannes Siebner had spoken for several hours with victims of abuse. The discussion was moderated by former German Health Minister Andrea Fischer, who presented a special report on the abuse cases in Jesuit institutions in July. The conversation took place in a "very serious atmosphere" and the parties did not part on "good terms," Katsch reported. It is unclear whether there will be another meeting after this second one and the first one in May.

The spokesman for the victims described the sum that Kiechle had named in a newspaper interview on Wednesday as cynical. Kiechle had spoken of a "rather four-digit" amount of compensation. Katsch accused the order of committing a second crime against the victims by covering it up for years.

Money cannot bring back the time they have lost and cannot heal what has been destroyed; many victims have suffered massive and lasting damage to their psychological development. But a clear and for the institutions also painful payment would recognize these sufferings, said the spokesman. Since the Jesuits had declared that they could not raise the sum demanded by the victims on their own, the initiative now wanted to turn to the German Bishops' Conference and press for a discussion during its fall plenary session. This begins on Tuesday in Fulda.

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