Irritations around abuse studies

The few weeks ago also at our site presented research projects of the German bishops to the topic abuse provide obviously with some priests for displeasure. There is talk of violations of "the ecclesiastical data protection order". The Bishops' Conference once again clarifies key points of the study.

After on Saturday (06.08.2011) pre-published "Spiegel" information, there is resistance to the external review of church personnel files for possible cases of abuse. This "legally as well as humanly highly questionable procedure of the German bishops" violates "the ecclesiastical data protection order", criticized the "Network of Catholic Priests" according to an advance report of the Hamburg news magazine.

Network spokesman Guido Rodheudt, a pastor in Herzogenrath near Aachen, points out in the report that "even in normal labor law, third parties have no right to the surrender of personnel files".

Network unites 500 priests
The priest network, which is active throughout Germany, has received numerous complaints since the bishop's decision, according to its own information. According to "Spiegel," the association of some 500 Catholic pastors is now calling on the bishops' conference to "distance itself from the project". While welcoming the concern to expose and prevent abuse, this would radically violate the privacy rights of all clergy, as their "privacy is left to third parties," it said. The emeritus Munich canon lawyer Winfried Aymans also shares the concerns.

In a statement, with which the network wants to go public in the next few days week, it is said that the Bishops' Conference gives the impression that the "inspection of files without the consent of the individual subjects all priests, deacons and members of religious orders to the general suspicion of sexual abuse of minors," quotes the "Spiegel". This is "a wrong signal" to the public and "an outrageous breach of the relationship of trust between clergy and their bishops".

DBK statement
The German Bishops' Conference had recently allowed the head of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony, Christian Pfeiffer, to access the confidential files of all 27 dioceses for a three-year research project. The bishops' conference ared thereby to keep the general data and personal protection-legal standards.

On Friday, the website of the German Bishops' Conference now published a joint statement by Pfeiffer and the DBK secretary, P. Dr. Hans Langendorfer SJ, published. There is talk here of various "inquiries as to whether the protection of personal data is adequately taken into account in its implementation" and of "irritations" in this regard. Therefore one wants to clarify "cornerstones of the jointly developed data protection concept".

In altogether four points the procedure with the investigation is presented. The research project complies with "the general standard of data protection and personal data protection law for scientific research projects," the statement ends. The procedure described, while respecting data protection, takes into account both the scientific gain of knowledge and the protection of the personal rights of the priests.

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