New church law planned

New church law planned

Shadow of a cross © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

The Protestant Church in the Rhineland wants to strengthen the fight against sexual abuse with a church law. A draft law provides, among other things, for the regular presentation of an extended certificate of good conduct for employees.

This would mean that uniform extended rules would apply to the 700 bodies of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland (EKiR), Vice President Christoph Pistorius told journalists in Dusseldorf on Wednesday. The law will be presented to the regional synod in January for resolution.

Under the bill, all church employees will be required to submit an expanded certificate of good conduct before beginning employment and then every five years. He said that should also apply to volunteers if their work is strongly linked to contact with minors. Further, it should be stipulated that employees must report any suspicion of sexual violence. All church institutions must develop protection concepts. A ban on hiring should apply to people convicted of abuse, he said.

Law follows EKD guidelines

According to Pistorius, the law follows the guidelines of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). As early as 2003, the Rhenish regional church established a binding procedure for dealing with suspected violations of sexual self-determination. It has since been revised several times. The law is now a logical step for the protection against sexual violence.

The perpetrators should in no way be protected from criminal consequences by their office, the vice president said. Action must be taken against looking the other way and trivializing sexual violence.

Regional Synod in January 2020

The regional synod of 12. up to 16. January 2020 in Bad Neuenahr also deals with the topic of diaconia and the relationship with Judaism. The vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Abraham Lehrer, is expected to address the 206 delegates.

The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland covers large parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, as well as two church districts in Hesse. With about 2.5 million members, it is the second largest member church of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

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