German Bundestag © Maurizio Gambarini
Victims of sexualized violence in the church have long criticized the speed of the process of coming to terms with it. In a petition, they are now addressing the parliament with clear ideas. Thereby they meet on many open ears.
With about 29.000 supporters behind them, victims of abuse in the church made demands on politicians. On Wednesday, representatives of an alliance of affected initiatives in Berlin presented a petition addressed to the religious representatives of all parliamentary groups in the Bundestag except the AfD, along with a list of signatories.
Those affected are seeking support in "coming to terms with, helping and compensating victims of sexual violence in the church," the title of their petition launched in February. "Coming to terms with the crimes of sexual violence committed by priests against children and young people must no longer be left solely to those responsible in the Catholic Church," it says. Now the parliament is demanded.
Coming to terms with the abuse was not an "internal church matter
From the Bundestag, the initiators promise themselves the establishment of a "truth and justice commission", which "accompanies the processing of the decades-long systematic institutional failure in the churches". Coming to terms with the past is not an "internal church matter," but a challenge for society as a whole. And without them, prevention could not succeed.
Furthermore, the victims demand the establishment of a "victims' recovery organization" financed by the churches but acting independently, which could serve as a model for dealing with victim groups from other sectors of society. He also said that parliament, as an "honest broker," should clarify what appropriate compensation should look like.
In addition, the networking and counseling of victims must be financially supported.
With its demand for further reappraisal and its "accompaniment" by politics, the petition is certainly meeting with open ears among the addressees: The religious affairs representative of the SPD parliamentary group, Lars Castellucci, said that there must be "more commitment and also more speed". "Politics has a responsibility to accompany this process."In the processing of abuse, however, other areas such as family, school or sports must also be taken into account.
Castellucci is currently working on a paper on the advantages and disadvantages of the individual options for political "accompaniment".
Among the conceivable variants are, in addition to a "truth commission", also a commission of inquiry or the strengthening of the abuse commissioner and the previous independent processing commission, for example, through reporting obligations to the Bundestag. What the SPD politician himself favors, he leaves open so far.
Talks of the religious representatives planned
Further talks are now planned between the religious affairs commissioners with the aim of organizing another joint meeting with victims, abuse commissioner Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig and church representatives before the Bundestag elections. Options for the time after the election are to be sounded out. The roundtable had already met once in September.
The chairman of the Catholic German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, had shown himself open in the spring for a commission that takes a look at abuse in and also outside the church. Similarly before already Rorig had expressed itself.
Hermann Grohe (CDU), the religion commissioner of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, now said that the continued reappraisal in the churches "will certainly have to be followed by further consequences.". It is urgently necessary to implement in all Catholic dioceses the joint declaration signed last June to come to terms with the past. At that time, the bishops had committed themselves, among other things, to setting up independent commissions to deal with abuse, which has already been implemented in only a few dioceses. Grohe called for a similar agreement to be reached with the Protestant Church in the near future.
Benjamin Strasser, religious affairs commissioner of the FDP parliamentary group, said the recent events surrounding the abuse report in the archdiocese of Cologne had given the impression "that no real progress is being made without outside assistance.". For this reason, the next legislative period will have to deal with "how politics can also exert influence in the sense of the victims".
The representative of the left-wing parliamentary group, Christine Buchholz, supports the demands of the petition. "Concrete steps are necessary to guarantee clarification," she said. The Green politician Konstantin von Notz said: "Sexual abuse and sexualized violence, also and especially against children, remain a major problem for society as a whole, which must finally be addressed with all political force."A comprehensive dark field study is finally needed.