Balloons outside Fulda Cathedral commemorate victims of abuse in the Catholic Church (archive) © Ingo Bruggenjurgen (DR)
The reappraisal of sexual abuse is still in the early stages in most Catholic dioceses, according to research by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Criticism of this circumstance comes from the victims' initiative "Eckiger Tisch".
A year after they agreed with the federal government's abuse commissioner to set up independent commissions to deal with abuse, only two of Germany's 27 dioceses, Bamberg and Passau, have created such a body, according to a FAZ survey.
"This shows once again that we have no suitable instruments to deal with the past injustice," said Matthias Katsch, spokesman for the victims' initiative "Eckiger Tisch," to the newspaper.
Expert reports published or in progress
According to the survey, 15 of the 27 German dioceses have not yet commissioned an abuse study that would also name those responsible for unlawful behavior, the newspaper writes. The (arch)dioceses of Limburg, Aachen, Cologne and Berlin have published studies on the extent of sexualized violence and how diocesan leadership deals with those accused and affected.
Reports are currently being prepared for the (arch)dioceses of Munich, Munster, Essen, Mainz, Freiburg, Paderborn, Hildesheim and for the Mecklenburg part of the archdiocese of Hamburg.
"Reappraisal process needs a common roof"
However, the studies differed significantly in terms of authors and questions. "The FAZ quoted Katsch, a representative of the victims, as saying: "The process of coming to terms with sexualized violence needs a common roof.
According to the report, several dioceses have argued that the commissioning of an abuse study should be left to an independent commission, but such a commission has not yet been established because they are still looking for interested parties for a victim advisory board.
Agreed on "joint declaration
A year ago, the bishops and the Federal Government Commissioner for Abuse, Johannes-Wilhelm Rohrig, agreed on a "Joint Declaration on Binding Criteria and Standards for Independent Processing of Sexual Abuse".
One point was the involvement of those affected: The commissions in the dioceses must each include two victims of sexualized violence. Further members are to be proposed by the respective state governments. Less than half of the recommended seven members may be employees of the Catholic Church or belong to a lay body of the diocese. All members are appointed by the respective bishop.
As the FAZ survey revealed, some 12 months after the agreement was reached, two bishops have established an independent commission according to the agreed standards: the Archbishop of Bamberg Ludwig Schick in late February 2020 and, most recently, the Bishop of Passau Stefan Oster, in whose diocese an independent commission was constituted on Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman.