“A persistent problem!”

The frightening figures are on the table: abuse has occurred in all German dioceses. But where are the personal consequences besides shame and apologies? this site wonders.DE Editor-in-Chief Ingo Bruggenjurgen.

"Sexual abuse by Catholic clerics is an ongoing problem!"For me, this is the central sentence of the abuse study published in Fulda on Tuesday, which vividly documents the staggering failure of my church. On 356 pages the scientists try to explain what cannot be explained. It is completely superfluous to discuss the exact number of those affected. Every single minor who has been abused by ministers of the Church is one victim too many. Scientists truly speak of seeing only the "tip of the iceberg" in the clerical failure: Files were destroyed and manipulated. Crimes covered up and not reported. Lies and cover-ups ruled the day. Power was abused.

No one can ever again speak of "regrettable individual cases" or "black sheep, which exist everywhere". For far too long, those in positions of responsibility looked the other way. The protection of the institution church stood before the protection of the victims, also this a result of the study. New crimes were thus consciously or unconsciously taken into account.

They are errors of the system – the scientists are quite sure of that. Is it enough if bishops now regret and ask for apology? Yes, they want to strive for consequences in addition to prevention. No diocese can avoid an independent reappraisal, as Cologne's Cardinal Woelki has already prescribed for himself and his archdiocese. But is it enough if the churchmen at the top now emphasize that they have always acted according to the respective valid (self-given) guidelines?? Industry bosses and politicians rarely ame personal, symbolic responsibility. They are usually catapulted out of office only when actionable records convict them and public prere becomes too great. "With you it shall not be so!" – these words of Jesus may encourage the ecclesiastical power mongers.

It would give me courage if at least one responsible churchman would stand up and confess: "I myself am not a perpetrator. But I share responsibility for the system and would like to set an example. I have unfortunately remained silent and looked the other way for far too long. I meant well and wanted to prevent damage to my church. I have thus betrayed victims and protected perpetrators. Today I see that this was wrong. I take full responsibility for this. I can no longer remain in my office and I ask forgiveness from the victims, my church and God."But all those who will continue to bear responsibility in the church in the future must do everything in their power to ensure that the key sentence of the scientists untrue will: "Sexual abuse by Catholic clerics is an ongoing problem!"

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Christina Cherry
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