Poster with the inscription "Ask those affected" (Archive) © Julia Steinbrecht (KNA)
Initiatives of victims of sexual violence in the Catholic Church want to cooperate more closely nationwide. Only if those affected networked better would they have a strong voice in the process of coming to terms with the past, they stressed.
This was stated by the Action Alliance, which is supported by the Corner Table and seven other initiatives, during an online conference on Monday.
The initiatives demanded support from the Catholic Church, for example in contacting victims of abuse or in financing personal exchange and legal advice. There are numerous bureaucratic hurdles in applying for recognition benefits, they said. The church keeps finding excuses for inadequate reappraisal and prevents victims from joining together.
Stakeholder advisory councils are viewed critically
Several spokespersons of initiatives critically dealt with the affected persons' advisory councils founded by dioceses. They served rather to save the reputation of the church. Their members are still determined by dioceses; however, the church cannot be an advocate for the victims, they said.
The initiatives had demanded last week in an open letter also more support from the policy. The ie of coming to terms with, helping and compensating victims of child sexual abuse belongs in parliament, wrote the two resigned members of the victims' advisory council in the archdiocese of Cologne, Patrick Bauer and Karl Haucke, as well as the spokesman for the Cornered Table initiative, Matthias Katsch, in the "Zeit" supplement "Christ Welt".
They demanded the establishment of a truth and justice commission by the parliament, which should accompany "the process of coming to terms with the decades of systematic institutional failure in the churches". "The church can't do it alone," the authors said. Parliament should also clarify what appropriate compensation should look like.
During the spring plenary meeting of the Catholic bishops, which begins on Tuesday and takes place online, the Action Alliance supports the initiative of the Giordano Bruno Foundation, which is present with a church-critical motif float of the carnival float builder Jacques Tilly next to the Cologne Cathedral.
No state commission?
The president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Thomas Sternberg, doubted on Monday, however, the need for a state commission to deal with abuse. All in all, the Catholic Church is on the right track, he told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
"I believe the Aufarbeitungsarbeit of many Catholic dioceses in Germany does not need to hide.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 task of coming to terms with the situation," he explained.