“Responsibility does not expire”

The Round Table on Child Abuse held its first meeting in Berlin on Friday morning. On Interviewer: A background report and interviews with Federal Minister Kristina Schroder, Canisius Rector Father Klaus Mertes and the independent Federal Government Commissioner Christine Bergmann.

Federal Family Minister Kristina Schroder (CDU) said immediately before the meeting that responsibility does not expire, even if the acts are time-barred. She would like the Round Table to clearly identify deficits. Education Minister Annette Schavan (CDU) stressed that it was right to have brought numerous representatives from the institutions into the committee. Churches, schools and other public institutions addressed the ie intensively. The overriding goal must be to do justice to the victims, Schavan said. Compensation? Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) spoke of a "very big task". Legal policy consequences must be drawn from the processing of cases from the past decades, she said. Reappraisal and prevention are the two pillars of the Round Table.Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also called for financial support for victims of sexual abuse. Many victims did not expect financial compensation, but wanted "some form of recognition for suffering inflicted on them in the past". The minister also mentioned longer statutes of limitations in criminal law and the explicit anchoring of children's rights in the German constitution as further topics to be discussed by the round table. With regard to the offer of resignation by Augsburg Bishop Walter Mixa, the FDP politician said: "Nothing is the way it was half a year ago, not even in the Catholic Church."

Jaschke: Fund for uncomplicated Hil Hamburg auxiliary bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke did not rule out financial compensation from the Catholic Church. Jaschke said Thursday evening on ZDF that the church must consider whether it could make "a fund for uncomplicated help" possible. He emphasized in the program "Maybrit Illner spezial" that the Catholic Church itself had provided the impetus for the clarification of the incidents. The Canisius College in Berlin had started the ball rolling. In addition the church already strives since 2001 strengthened for clearing-up, "also initiated by the Vatican". In earlier years, however, the victims had received "far too little attention". Now they would have to be able to speak and be heard. The former special investigator at the Ettal monastery, Thomas Pfister, on the other hand, spoke of a lack of self-cleansing powers in church institutions. Without the investigations and public prere, the abuses in Ettal would not have "come to light". Pfister says he represents about 200 victims. He explained that apologies, talks and prayers were "not sufficient" to make amends. Rather, the monastery must be judged "by the deeds".

Two working groups The round table wants to set up two working groups. One will deal with questions of prevention and intervention, the other with the processing of cases, assistance for victims, legal policy consequences and the question of compensation. An interim report should be available by the end of the year. The round table is chaired by the three ministers.The panel has 61 members, including political representatives from the federal and state governments, lawyers, physicians, and representatives of churches, schools, family associations and victim counseling services. The federal cabinet had decided the establishment of the round table at the end of March and at the same time appointed the former federal minister Bergmann as abuse commissioner.

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