Should a political body help address abuse cases in the church and elsewhere? The abuse commissioner of the federal government, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, is in favor, church representatives are not averse in any case.
At the latest with the publication of the Cologne report on the handling of abuse cases by those responsible, the question of the independence of the commissioned bodies re-emerged. This also includes the independent processing commissions, which are to be gradually established in all dioceses. Now there are renewed calls – especially from those affected – to convene a commission appointed by parliament to deal with abuse.
Such a board was also a topic at a recent online event organized by the institute for prevention and reappraisal (ipa) in the county of lantershofen in the diocese of trier. The abuse commissioner of the Bishops' Conference, Bishop Stephan Ackermann, spoke of the "second best way" with regard to the joint declaration on the structural processing of abuse concluded last year. The best way is possibly a body initiated by the politicians, which takes care of the processing. At the same time, however, Ackermann admitted that this path is unrealistic, because the politicians do not support it.
Parliamentarians in the responsibility?
Now there may be some movement in the debate about the further procedure. Because still on the day of the publication of the Cologne expert's report the religion commissioner of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Lars Castellucci, expressed himself. He told the Catholic News Agency (KNA) that he sees "us parliamentarians as having a responsibility".
His proposal: a parliamentary accompaniment of the reappraisal process. Informally, this has already begun. Thus, the abuse commissioner of the federal government, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, had met with church representatives and victims as well as with the religious representatives of the parliamentary groups (except the AfD) last September, at the beginning of the year Castellucci had invited the religious representatives of the parliamentary groups to another meeting.
Castellucci went on to say that such "monitoring" would be a "contribution to securing social peace in the country. It needs to look at other affected sectors of society in addition to the churches, he said. He leaves open, however, what such accompaniment might look like in concrete terms.
Rorig, who was also present at the ipa event, has long called for greater parliamentary involvement in dealing with abuses. Thus he pleads that his successor – Rorig resigns his office at the end of the legislative period after ten years – should receive a legal reporting obligation to the parliament, the federal government and the Bundesrat.
Parliamentary monitoring committee?
This could then also be used to report important results of the reports of the independent investigation commissions in the dioceses to the parliament, the federal government and the Bundesrat, said Rorig. He could also imagine the Bundestag appointing a parliamentary monitoring committee to deal with all ies relating to combating sexual abuse and its consequences, as well as coming to terms with it in all crime contexts.
At the same time, Rorig once again emphasized the importance of the joint declaration, which Ackermann had described as the "second best way". With this, the bishops would give the control for the reappraisal in their diocese out of their hands, without being released from their responsibility. An important core of this agreement, he said, is that the independent processing commissions in the dioceses would be required to submit and publish annual reports.
He, Rorig, will also take a public position on this if this appears to be necessary. So far, the Catholic Church is the only institution that has agreed to such a declaration. Rorig emphasized that the corresponding agreements with the Protestant Church in Germany and with the Catholic religious orders are, however, in the final phase of negotiations.