“A sustainable vision of the church”

Young people in Germany © oneinchpunch (shutterstock)

The federation of the German catholic youth (BDKJ) has a new federal executive committee: On Saturday the citizen of Berlin Gregor Podschun (30) was selected into the office of the BDKJ federal chairman. In addition, the youth association set up a commission on abuse.

The Federal Chairwoman Lisi Maier continues her term of office. The BDKJ is the umbrella organization of 17 Catholic youth associations with about 660 members.000 members.

Podschun is honorary diocesan chairman of the BDKJ Berlin since 2015 and since this year also delegate of the youth at the Synodal Way, the reform process of the Catholic Church in Germany.

Youth and church

"We youth associations have a vision of the church that is fit for the future," the 30-year-old emphasized. "Especially against the background of sexualized violence and its cover-up, we must dismantle the power structures of clerics and strengthen forms of participation, especially of children and young people."

Podschun, who comes from Konigs Wusterhausen, studied social work and social management in Berlin. Most recently, he worked as a consultant for voluntary services at the Catholic association IN VIA in Berlin.

Joined at the age of 14

As national praeses, Ottersbach wants to place a special emphasis on promoting the spiritual leadership of the associations. "In particular, the participation of lay people in this field is a great strength of youth associations. I see the BDKJ in this topic in a pioneer role", said the native Duisburger. He joined the Deutsche Pfadfinderschaft Sankt Georg (DPSG) at the age of 14 and was always active in Catholic youth association work, even as a priest. For example, he filled the office of DPSG diocesan curate from 2006 to 2010 and worked closely with the BDKJ as diocesan youth pastor in the Essen diocese from 2010 to 2015.

Podschun succeeds Thomas Andonie as BDKJ national chairman. Ottersbach takes over the office of Bundesprases from Dirk Bingener, who moved to the leadership of the Kindermissionswerk and the aid organization missio Aachen in October 2019. Together with BDKJ national president Lisi Maier they form the top of the catholic youth association work. The office of the honorary federal chairwoman remains vacant after the resignation of Katharina Norpoth.

BDKJ youth association sets up commission on abuse

The umbrella organization of Catholic youth associations in Germany sets up a commission to deal with sexualized violence. She should critically question its own structures and come to terms with possible acts of abuse, the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) announced in Dusseldorf on the weekend.

"With a processing commission, the BDKJ ensures that possible acts of sexualized violence committed in the past against children and adolescents in Catholic youth associations come to light and that the suffering of those affected is recognized accordingly," decided the BDKJ general assembly on Saturday evening.

Prevention and intervention

In the past years, the association has intensively dealt with questions of prevention and intervention in Catholic child and youth work. "To a fair contact with sexualized violence in the sense of the concerning counts however also a concept for the processing in the past of committed injustice", said the BDKJ Federal President Lisi Maier.

The commission consists of eight elected experts, at least four of whom do not have a current mandate in a youth or diocesan association of the BDKJ, a member of the BDKJ federal board and a speaker in the BDKJ federal office. Experts from affected people's organizations and other specialist bodies are to be regularly consulted for advice.

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