“Compatible with what we practice”

The Catholic Church welcomes the results of the final report of the Federal Government Commissioner for Abuse, Christine Bergmann. For example, the idea of a joint clearing house is conceivable, said in an interview with our site Bishop Stefan Ackermann. The DBK abuse commissioner would like to see more concrete agreements for the round table.

Christine Bergmann previously made her concern more than clear: more help for victims of sexual abuse, and: "The ie is not finished with my final report". The federal government's abuse commissioner stressed this particularly forcefully on Tuesday (24.05.2011) in Berlin particularly energetically.

For a year, the former federal family minister and a team of about 60 people tried to work through cases of sexual abuse – abuse in churches, schools and sports clubs, and in the family. Her final report comprises 300 pages, about half of which are taken up by the recommendations for the abuse round table.

Around 13.000 letters and 2.000 calls from victims and their families were received by the commissioner. Bergmann's recommendations are based on her evaluation and on interviews with psychotherapists and counseling centers. Bergmann will continue in her role as commissioner until the end of October. The telephone helpline should also be available for that long.

"After that, things must continue," Bergmann demanded. The Round Table would have to decide on a follow-up offer. The SPD politician advocated the establishment of an independent body to monitor the implementation of the recommendations, as well as a central telephone hotline.

Recommendations for financial compensation
Recommendations on financial compensation for victims are reserved. Victims of cases already barred by the statute of limitations cannot expect lump-sum payments. The federal government must finance a "pot" from which therapies and counseling for victims can be paid for. An independent clearinghouse, to be staffed by experts, will examine the plausibility of the written applications of those affected and then decide whether payment will be made.

"No one can say how much it will be," Bergmann said. A therapy of 50 hours would cost about 5.000 euros. She had not yet spoken to the Finance Minister, but "I ame that these recommendations will be followed," said the Federal Government Commissioner.

She also formulated clear ideas for the institutions, i.e. above all churches and schools. The institutions where there have been cases of abuse should pay one-time compensation at the request of the victims. The sums should be based on the compensation for pain and suffering that the victim could have obtained in court. Retroactive payment of therapy costs and the establishment of an internal complaints system are also among the recommendations for institutions. Bergmann has apparently abandoned the idea of churches, schools and sports clubs paying into a joint federal and state fund.

Victims, whose case is not yet time-barred, are referred to the legal process. Bergmann, however, called for the Victims' Compensation Act to be amended so that more victims than at present receive treatment or pensions.

Call for a permanent contact point
The SPD supported Bergmann's demand for a permanent contact point. This should be a matter of course for a humane society, said the deputy chairwoman of the SPD parliamentary group, Dagmar Ziegler. The need has become apparent, he said.

The children's policy spokeswoman of the Left Party, Diana Golze, called on the states and municipalities to make sufficient resources available. Youth welfare offices, youth facilities and counseling centers should not be subject to the municipal prere to save money.

The Round Table on Abuse was set up by the German government in April 2010 in response to the numerous cases of abuse in the Catholic Church and in boarding schools. On 6.
June, the panel will meet again, likely to focus on the compensation ie. A final report is to be presented at the end of the year.

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Christina Cherry
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