“She doesn't know canon law”

Cardinal Walter Kasper has sharply rejected criticism from Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) of the Catholic Church's handling of abuse cases. "She doesn't know canon law," the president of the Vatican Ecumenical Council told Vatican Radio on Wednesday.

Regarding the accusation of lack of cooperation with law enforcement agencies, Kaspter said, "It cannot distinguish between what is competence under church law and what is competence under state law."The federal minister had spoken of a duty of silence within the church in reference to a directive of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. However, this refers to abuse proceedings under church law, which are initiated in parallel and independently of investigations by state authorities.Kasper denied having demanded compensation for victims of sexual abuse. A corresponding interview with the Italian daily newspaper "La Repubblica" had been misrepresented. The German curia cardinal again expressed "shame that such things have occurred in Catholic institutions and that children have been abused". The German bishops would do "what is possible" in this situation. The Vatican supports thereby "naturally" the local bishops.According to Kasper, the Catholic Church is the only institution that has ied guidelines for dealing with abuse. However, the phenomenon is "not a Catholic problem, but a social problem". Therefore, he said, it is time to jointly develop measures for prevention and protection of victims. As bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart between 1989 and 1999, the current curia cardinal said he pursued allegations of sexual abuse by sending a personnel officer to visit affected families. "The parents kept silent, although we had urged them to talk." Therefore, the accusation that the church does not cooperate with the authorities and erects walls of silence is "completely absurd".

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