Force reappraisal: The Archdiocese of Freiburg wants to establish a victim advisory board to help prevent abuse and critically accompany the processing of abuse and sexualized violence by priests and church employees.
"It is particularly valuable for the reappraisal when those affected contribute their perspective and help us to further improve clarification and prevention," Archbishop Stephan Burger said Wednesday.
People are being sought who want to volunteer and were themselves affected by abuse or sexualized violence. The new advisory body is to be established on 1. February to begin work, have three to seven members and work independently of church leadership. The archdiocese pays expenses and meeting allowances for the cooperation. Similar committees are also planned or already under construction in other German dioceses.
Victims' advisory council as a building block for coming to terms with abuse
The victims' advisory council is a building block in the ongoing process of coming to terms with abuse. The final report of the diocesan commission "Power and Abuse" appointed by Burger has been announced for 2021. Also in the coming year, an independent commission will be established to which victims of abuse can turn to. A member of the new victims' advisory council will also be appointed to this commission.
Lastly, the diocese pledged to continue paying monthly aid to abuse victims in social need. Those affected can apply for this support since the beginning of the year. Currently, the diocese pays 24 affected people a monthly aid between 200 and 800 euros. Five other requests are currently being processed.
On 1. January at the same time a nationwide uniform procedure for recognizing the suffering of abuse victims in the Catholic Church comes into force. Benefit levels are based on state court rulings on pain and suffering awards. This results in one-time payments of up to 50.000 euros. In addition, those affected can get reimbursed for costs of therapies.
"MHG Study" Basis for Reappraisal
An important basis for coming to terms with abuse cases is the study published in 2018 on "Sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, deacons and male religious in the area of the German Bishops' Conference," the so-called MHG study. According to the study, between 1946 and 2014 there was evidence of 3.677 victims of sexual assault and on about 1.670 accused priests, deacons and religious.
190 cases were in the territory of the Archdiocese of Freiburg, which were also investigated again by prosecutors. For the area of the diocese, the prosecutorial examinations and investigations into sexual abuse cases have been completed except for one case.