The Osnabruck diocese has enacted the new procedure in the Catholic Church in Germany for recognizing the suffering of victims of sexual violence. In the future, the amount of the payments will be decided by an independent body.
The Independent Commission for Recognition Benefits (UKA), which is responsible for the whole country, will decide on the amount of the payments, the diocese announced in Osnabruck on Monday. Payments are to be based in principle on judgments of state courts on compensation for pain and suffering. This results in a benefit amount of up to 50.000 euros. The new rules of procedure replace the previous procedure for material recognition of suffering suffered, which has been practiced since 2011.
In November, the German bishops had decided to introduce a new law on the 1. January 2021 to put into force the new "Order for the Procedure for the Recognition of Suffering for Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Ecclesiastical Context". The starting point was the study "Sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, deacons and male religious in the area of the German Bishops' Conference" (MHG study), published in 2018.
Benefits from assets of the episcopal see
According to its own information, the Osnabruck diocese will not finance corresponding benefits from church tax revenues, but from the assets of the Episcopal See, which have been available to the bishop since the founding of the diocese to finance his tasks. At the same time, this will ensure that those affected will receive payments even if claims against the accused under state law can no longer be asserted due to the statute of limitations or death.
According to the bishops' conference, the new procedure is divided into five steps: persons who have experienced sexual abuse as minors or adult charges turn to the independent contact persons of an (arch)diocese. In the case of the Osnabruck diocese, these are former Osnabruck district court president Antonius Fahnemannn and gynecologist Irmgard Witschen-Hegge. The contact person conducts an interview and can assist in filling out the application form. The application is forwarded to the UKA by the contact person or the diocese. The UKA determines a benefit amount and instructs payment to affected persons. The office of UKA informs the person concerned as well as the responsible diocese and pays out the determined sum directly.