“Reappraisal work does not have to hide”

The president of the Central Committee of German Catholics, Thomas Sternberg, doubts the necessity of a state commission to deal with abuse. He is perplexed by the unrest in the archdiocese of Cologne.

"Whether there is a need for a state commission that would have to come to terms with largely time-barred sexualized violence in all areas of society seems questionable to me," Sternberg told the "Augsburger Allgemeine" (Monday, online). All in all, the Catholic Church is on the right track. "I believe that the work of many Catholic dioceses in Germany in coming to terms with the past has nothing to hide."

Talking at length about other important ies, too

The head of the ZdK explained: "In addition to dioceses that have commissioned expert opinions, there are a number of dioceses that have entrusted completely independent teams of scientists with the reappraisal. In the diocese Munster it is led by a time historian. Here, reappraisal is happening outside the church, and I think this is a good and right path."

Victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church had demanded last week more support from politics. The establishment of a truth and justice commission by the parliament is necessary.

With a view to the spring plenary meeting of the German Catholic Bishops' Conference, which begins on Tuesday, Sternberg added that he hoped that other important topics would also be discussed in detail there: "Eucharistic hospitality, as it has long been practiced everywhere. Or about the question of assisted suicide: How can the church, instead of killing, give help to live and help in dying??"

Moreover, especially in the pandemic, he said, there is also a need to talk about trust in God, a sense of security, a willingness to help and the comfort of prayer.

Cologne incident radiates to entire church in Germany

Regarding the unrest in the archdiocese of Cologne, Sternberg said, "The faithful there are upset in a way I have never experienced before. I also do not know how to heal this again. In any case, what is happening in Cologne right now is radiating out to the entire Catholic Church in Germany."

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne is currently under fire for not publishing a first expert opinion on the handling of abuse cases by former and current diocesan officials as initially planned. He justifies this with "methodological flaws" in the paper. A new expert opinion by the Cologne criminal lawyer Bjorn Gercke is to be presented on 18 September. March to be published.

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