26 November 2018, The Tablet

German government wants to work with Church to prevent abuse

At an experts’ meeting in Cologne on 23 November entitled “The Catholic Church on the way to sustainable prevention of sexualised violence”, Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, the German government’s commissioner for dealing with the sexual abuse of minors, pressed for closer cooperation between Church and state on abuse.

In an interview with German state radio deutschlandfunk.de before the meeting, Rörig said it was now quite obvious that bishops in a number of German dioceses were “dynamically pressing ahead” with their efforts to establish full transparency so that they could not be accused of hushing up abuse. This showed their good will and that was “most positive”, he said. It was now essential to persuade the Religious Orders to do the same.

The Federal Government and the federal states should “at least in part” be involved in the appraisal of the abuse of minors in the Catholic and other Churches as the state bore the responsibility for all children including those in the Churches’ care, Rörig told the Süddeutsche Zeitung before the meeting.

“It would be an important historical step if the criteria and standards for a comprehensive appraisal and an independent clarification (of sexual abuse) could be developed jointly and its implementation regulated by contract. In concrete terms that would mean that Church and state could communicate on the standards of a continuous and respectful participation of the persons affected in the appraisal procedures, ” Rörig emphasised at the meeting.

Bishop Stephan Ackermann who is responsible for abuse affairs in the bishops’ conference welcomed Rörig’s suggestion. “Joint discussions are underway and we hope to seal the cooperation in the coming year”.

The head of the German Conference of Superiors, Sr Katharina Kluitmann, welcomed Rörig’s suggestion. “Without the appraisal of abuse, prevention of abuse is left hanging in the air”, she pointed out.

The meeting was hosted by the German bishops’ conference, the conference of German Religious superiors and by Rörig.

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