Former CDU secretary general and federal minister Heiner Geibler has praised the Jesuit order for its efforts to clarify the abuse scandal. Dealing aggressively with the accusations is a signal to the Catholic Church as a whole, says the former Jesuit student.
CBA: Dr. Geibler, from 1946 to 1949 you were a student at the Jesuit High School in St. Blasien and afterwards for four years novice of the order in Pullach. How did you receive the reports about sexual abuse in the schools of the order??
Geissler: I myself had no negative experiences and at that time I never heard anything about possible cases of abuse. The cases described are the misconduct of a few, with whom the many other Jesuits must not be lumped together, who do outstanding work in education and upbringing.
CBA: How do you judge the crisis management of the order?
Geissler: I think this is exemplary – especially for the rest of the Catholic Church, where there is always an attempt to hide and cover up. The church superiors have so far mostly only reacted when reports of victims became public. Father Mertes in Berlin and other members of the order, on the other hand, went public on their own initiative and clarified the situation. This is a groundbreaking and positive signal.
CBA: They praised the Jesuit education. What was so important to you about it?
Geissler: These cases of abuse are completely atypical for the educational goals and the spirituality of the order. Take the members of the order themselves: from the novitiate to priestly ordination, they go through ten to twelve years of training. So the order has a very long time to examine and select applicants. The subject of sexuality was not taboo in the order.
CBA: What, then, did your education with the Jesuits bring to you personally?
Geissler: It was a very formative time for me. I learned a healthy self-confidence, was educated to civil courage and openness to the world. One had to deal with the thinking of other people, philosophies and religions. That has helped me a lot in my profession and in politics. In addition, social responsibility was a very important goal of the education, along with love of God. I think back with great gratitude and respect to my teachers and the time with the Jesuits. Nothing has changed in this regard, even with the current reports. I am glad that I have been able to work in St. Blasien was. The interview conducted