“Circle of rabble-rousing dark catholics”

Jesuit Father Klaus Mertes deplores an increasingly aggressive climate of discussion in parts of the Catholic Church. There is now a "circle of rabble-rousing dark Catholics" who dismiss any criticism as disloyal and are protected by leading circles, Mertes told the news magazine "Der Spiegel" (Monday).

Representatives of the official church behaved too indulgently toward this "loud, self-righteous minority," "for fear of being insulted themselves".

Too often, "from above" is watched in silence, "as some people in the Church attack others ever more insolently with the accusation that they are dividing the Church, especially when they are involved in associations, committees or even in the Central Committee of German Catholics," Mertes continued. He was angry about this behavior. This would not advance necessary debates, for example, on how the church should deal with the ie of sexuality.

Mertes, who will take over as director of the Jesuit College of Saint Blasien in the Black Forest this summer, had made public the first cases of abuse at the order's Berlin high school, the Canisius College, in January 2010, triggering a nationwide debate on such cases.

From the Pope's visit to Germany, the Jesuit priest hopes, in his own words, for "an approach" to the Catholic Church in the Federal Republic. Mertes specifically mentioned the dialogue on the future of the church initiated by the German bishops. He said it was good that this conversation had been started. "It would be wonderful if the Pope could say an encouraging word about the dialogue process sometime soon."

30 victims of abuse compensated so far
According to Father Mertes, the Jesuits have so far compensated 30 victims of sexual assault. A total of 54 of the approximately 200 people affected have so far applied for compensation, Mertes said: "The process is still underway."

At the same time, Mertes defended the approach of religious orders and bishops to pay the victims, except for individual cases, a sum of no more than 5.000 euros as compensation for pain and suffering. "It's about a sign that we don't just leave it at an apology," the Jesuit priest said. But a conscious decision was made to pay a lump sum, "because we, as representatives of the perpetrator side, cannot begin to measure suffering in a kind of judicial capacity".
Mertes continues: "Many victims find the sum unreasonable. I must endure that."

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Christina Cherry
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