The long road from word to deed

The long road from word to deed

View of Dresden © TTstudio (shutterstock)

In 2015, the diocese of Dresden-Meissen called on its parishes to develop "institutional protection concepts" as part of prevention work against sexual violence. A research on the implementation is sobering.

The handling of the case of a priest and multiple abuser who died 50 years ago is causing unrest in the Dresden-Meissen diocese. In addition to the lack of a process at the parish level, which is now being tackled on the initiative of a parish deputy, research into the case also revealed deficiencies in the current measures to prevent abuse in the diocese.

Concept drafting had been planned until mid-2016

Specifically, a so-called Institutional Protection Plan, in which every parish in the diocese was to spell out all of its measures to prevent sexual violence. The goal is to promote a culture of mindfulness to reduce the risk of church facilities becoming crime scenes of abuse.

In January 2015, Vicar General Andreas Kutschke ied the implementing regulations on how each parish must draft its protection concept under the diocese's prevention order. Until the 30. June 2016, according to the report, each parish had to have developed such a concept and submitted it to the diocese's prevention officer.

Goal still missed

However, even four and a half years after the deadline has passed, this target is still far from being reached, as a survey of all parishes by the Catholic News Agency (KNA) showed. According to it 16 of 37 parishes have so far still no presentable protection concept. Among them is the cathedral parish Sankt Trinitatis in Dresden.

The state of affairs in the Sorbian part of the diocese is also striking: only the cathedral parish of Bautzen has a protection concept, the six other Sorbian parishes have not yet been able to show any efforts.

New attempt since January

Since the journalistic investigations from mid-January, however, there has been movement on the matter in the Episcopal Ordinariate in Dresden. Vicar General Kutschke is preparing the publication of a decision that by the end of May the remaining 21 parishes "in any case at least a basic concept" must create and invite the parish public to continue working on it, the diocese said.

At a full-day abuse prevention training for diocesan leaders on 19. January the state of affairs had been raised last. "The unsatisfactory state of work of the protection concept creation in several parishes has thereby again and drastically become aware," the diocese acknowledged. Currently, it is being examined whether a reduction of the parish subsidy would be legally possible "as a last resort" in case of non-compliance.

"Dangerous obstacle"

Kutschke, who has been in office as the diocese's chief administrative officer since 2013, expressed "personal disappointment". For him, it was clear "that catching the ie requires the realization that sexual abuse could also occur in one's own parish. Not admitting and acknowledging this realization seems to me to be a dangerous obstacle."

Nevertheless, the question arises what the diocese has done so far to ensure and verify that the parishes create protection concepts. The 2015 prevention regulations state that the first task of the diocesan prevention officer is to "advise and coordinate the development and implementation of institutional protection concepts". How it turned out in reality should thus not have gone unnoticed.

Was the prere too high?

In 2016, only three parishes in the diocese had submitted a protection concept on time. The diocese explained to it now, the period of one and a half years fixed at that time had "perhaps the obviously necessary consciousness formation too strongly faded out".

The diocese cites a "conflict of goals" between an effective protection concept and timely enforcement: Experts warn "that 'prere' on this ie leads at best to formal compliance with the requirement. However, an institutional protection concept needs broad-based participation, awareness-raising and development of a culture of mindfulness in the parish."

Now it remains to be seen with what awareness of the problem the defaulting parishes in the next three months their "awareness raising" in terms of prevention, which was mandated to them six years ago, to advance.

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