“An important step toward a common goal”

The round table should come: In view of the abuse scandals, Federal Family Minister Kristina Schroder has now invited to it. The committee, with the participation of Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan, is to meet soon. The Catholic Church welcomes the initiative.

In a first statement, the abuse commissioner of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Stephan Ackermann, thanked the federal minister. "We ourselves had already said that a meeting of all socially relevant groups would be very helpful." The invitation of the minister was an important step towards the common goal of quickly addressing the entire ie. "I am grateful for the conversation. The German Bishops' Conference is of course on board.

"Marx: invite all relevant groups Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx also welcomed the round table on sexual abuse in schools initiated by the German government. It was good to invite representatives of all relevant groups from family associations, school authorities, doctors and of course also the churches, Marx told the "Munchner Merkur". The scandal of abuse of children and young people must be confronted on a broad front. Asked why the bishops had taken so long to take a stand, Marx pointed to an agreement among the bishops. At the bishops' conference, they had all wanted to talk about it again at length with experts. After that, a joint declaration should be made. "In retrospect, I don't know if it was the right thing to do," the archbishop acknowledged. At the same time, Marx warned against placing priests and employees under general suspicion in light of the abuse cases in the Catholic Church. He must also keep in mind the many who do good and dedicated work. The attacks on children and young people are "appalling and horrifying". First and foremost, therefore, he feels connected to the victims. "We have to face the truth and bring justice to the victims as much as possible."

Church must not think in terms of statutes of limitations Even if the institution as such had not sinned, but individuals, the effects ultimately hit everyone in the church, Marx stressed. It is like a family. At the same time, he acknowledged that in the past there had been a tendency not to damage the reputation of the respective institution. Most of the acts that are currently being discussed are time-barred. But a church should not think in terms of statutes of limitations. It has a moral responsibility that goes beyond generations. At the latest since 2002, when the Bishops' Conference adopted guidelines for dealing with cases of abuse, the perspective has changed, the archbishop said. Now it must be considered whether prevention can be further improved and when the public prosecutor's office should be called in. Experts had advised the bishops not to include mandatory reporting in the guidelines because of victim protection, Marx explained. In cases of abuse, however, he himself has always urged that the perpetrator turn himself in.

Meeting in April On 23. On April 1, representatives of family associations, schools and boarding schools, both major churches, the voluntary welfare sector, the medical profession and politicians are to draw up voluntary commitments and clear rules of conduct. In addition, children and young people are to be gently sensitized so that they can recognize and clearly name abuse. A third step should be the "nationwide sensitization" of professionals as well as parents and guardians in order to prevent possible abuse or to recognize cases of abuse more quickly.

Answers to key questions "In view of the terrible events that have now become known, we must act urgently," Schroder said. Child abuse, he said, exists in a variety of settings, "for example, in boarding schools, in sports clubs, but also in the family". He said the panel should find answers to the following key questions: What kind of help and support do victims need? What to do when assaults have happened? What factors promote assaults on children and adolescents and how can they be avoided??

Controversial table The establishment of a roundtable has been extremely controversial recently. Over the weekend, German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger reiterated her call for a roundtable to address child abuse in the Catholic Church. The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, had supported such a body in principle, but demanded the participation of the groups involved. Child sexual abuse is not a problem specific to the Catholic Church, he said. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said that a round table would not be a "pillory", but could "promote social reappraisal".

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Christina Cherry
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