No fixation on numbers

The Catholic Church has not yet committed itself to a specific sum in its draft for financial compensation for victims of abuse. The churches, together with the other institutions, want to agree on an amount at the federal government's round table so that abuse victims do not receive different sums of money.

"We feel that the impatience of the victims is growing," says Trier Bishop Stephan Ackermann. That's why the Catholic Church presented a concept for compensation at the German government's round table on sexual abuse on Thursday. As the first of the groups involved in the roundtable, as Ackermann, who is the abuse commissioner of the German Bishops' Conference, points out. The church wants to "throw a stone in the water" and push for a solution to the long debated ie. A decision on compensation should not be made only towards the end of the Round Table's deliberations in the second half of 2011, he said.

Criticism with some victims is nevertheless pre-programmed: Because the draft of the church, which is supported by dioceses and orders together, leaves an exact Entschadigungmme again openly. It is up to the round table to find a regulation for all affected social groups, so also for sports clubs or schools, says Ackermann. It must not come to the point that certain groups of victims are singled out or disadvantaged by different compensation terminals.

No fixation on numbers
The Bishop of Trier also warns against fixating on numbers: The controversy over the Hartz IV increase shows what conflicts this triggers. Soberly, Ackermann sees at the same time that no regulation can achieve a "total pacification". "What is important to us, however, is not to increase injustice, but to alleviate it."

The bishops have therefore presented a draft that consists of several pillars: Through material and immaterial aid, the church wants to express that it "recognizes the suffering of the victims and condemns the injustice of the perpetrators". At the same time, it expresses its will to help victims quickly and unbureaucratically in coping with present stressful life circumstances through material benefits. And it wants to contribute to better prevention.

Fund only for prevention
Unlike the compensation of Nazi-era forced laborers since 2000, the church has relied on a fund for only one ie, prevention, to support exemplary projects to prevent sexual abuse. In the case of therapy and compensation, however, it is not an anonymous central body that is to be the contact for victims, but the local church body responsible in each case: First the perpetrator, then secondarily the diocese, the monastery or the religious order.

The concept provides for the possible payment of a one-time sum of money. On the other hand, victims should be enabled to take advantage of therapeutic help or couples counseling. In addition, regulations are planned for individual cases of hardship. Ackermann stresses that the draft has not yet been worked out in detail. Once again, he emphasizes: The church is counting on associations, clubs or the state as the employer of schools to present concepts at the round table. And that a common path can be found.

With the concept, the Catholic Church has taken another step in coming to terms with the abuse scandal. At the end of August, it had tightened its guidelines for dealing with offenders. At their plenary assembly last week in Fulda, the bishops adopted a prevention concept that is to be implemented in all Catholic institutions nationwide that deal with children and young people. Ackermann described the scientific investigation as a step still to be taken: the cases of abuse should be processed "solidly, comparably and reliably.

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