“Clarify by the fall”

Symbolic image: Handing over money © Ponderful Pictures (shutterstock)

The system of recognition payments for abuse victims is still unclear. However, the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, does not want any further delay. It should be in place by the end of the year.

The president of the German Bishops' Conference, Limburg's Bishop Georg Batzing, wants no delay in recognition payments for abuse victims despite church tax losses caused by the Corona pandemic. "I don't want us to put this off any longer," he said in an interview with Bonn's General-Anzeiger newspaper (Friday).

"And I have the good feeling that we will keep the promise to clarify open procedural questions by the fall and that we will have a system by the end of the year so that those affected can also receive the recognition payments."

The bishops had further developed the system of recognition services for victims of sexualized violence in the area of the Catholic Church and had decided on principles for this, Batzing emphasized. "We want a uniform system, an independent determination of benefit levels, and for all aggrieved parties to have access to it."

The question of financing this system is secondary, he said: in his diocese of Limburg, the recognition payments are not financed from the church tax. "But not every diocese has this possibility. And, in the end, it must be said: all the money a diocese has belongs to the faithful of a diocese."

Batzing: difficult financial decisions

Batzing went on to say that the Bishops' Conference had already reckoned with declining church tax revenues prior to Corona. "But that's when we thought we still had ten years," said the bishop. "For quite a few dioceses, the tax losses now and in the coming year will be very significant."In his own diocese of Limburg, one expects a minus of three percent, in other dioceses the values are partly "considerably worse" and are in the upper single-digit range.

This would mean that "serious decisions" would now have to be made: "What do we spend the money that is available to us on? What are the resources with which we can effectively serve the proclamation of the Gospel and catechesis? How much real estate can we afford in the future and what makes sense pastorally??" This would mainly affect parish halls and also churches.

"Many things can be done," Batzing said, referring to the recent conversion of a Frankfurt church into a daycare center. "But we will also be faced with the question of whether it is not better to demolish churches and use the land in a new way."

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