How the bishop defends himself

Der Spiegel had criticized the work of Trier Bishop Stephan Ackermann as abuse commissioner. On our site interview, Ackermann rejects criticism against his work. At the same time, he acknowledges that the question of how to deal with offenders needs to be revisited. This interview was also picked up by the SZ, among others.

The Catholic Church's abuse commissioner, of all people, must justify himself: Victims accuse Bishop Stephan Ackermann of being shockingly negligent in dealing with convicted sex offenders. But where to take them when they have served their sentence? Does it serve child protection to simply release them?

Now he, of all people, has to defend himself: Stephan Ackermann, the bishop of Trier who turned 49 this Tuesday and is the bishops' conference commissioner for cases of sexual abuse. He, of all people, who never tires of declaring that there must be no tolerance of sexual violence and that the Catholic Church must learn a "culture of mindfulness".
In Der Spiegel, abuse victims accuse the Trier diocese of being shockingly negligent in its treatment of convicted sex offenders. Seven of them would be reassigned to pastoral care, in nursing homes or hospitals, but sometimes also to help out in parishes.
In the matter at hand is a conflict that is difficult to resolve: where to put convicted offenders who have served their sentences? Experts say that simply releasing them and not caring for them anymore also does not serve child protection purposes. But can they simply be reinstated as pastor? None of these priests work in children's and youth ministry, Ackermann defends himself.
All of them had been examined by forensic psychiatrists, and there should be no "Guantanamo for church offenders". This is not wrong in principle, but it takes one's breath away when one of the clergymen reports that he was transferred to a foreign parish in Ukraine in 1996, where he again abused children.
But behind the concrete conflict is the fundamental: The abuse scandal is still unresolved, despite declarations of remorse and arances of improvement, catalogs of prevention, guidelines and compensation payments.
All this does not heal the injuries; it also does not prevent cases from surfacing again and again in which those responsible acted in a blatantly wrong way. In February, on the sidelines of a conference in Trier, Ackermann said the time of controversial individual cases was now dawning, no matter how hard the church tried – because trust had been shattered. He will have guessed that this will apply especially to him.
With hesitant courage
He actually took a lot of trouble, exposed himself to the media storm and even more to the terrible reports of the victims, while more experienced confreres ducked away. Just as he once went with hesitant courage from his home town of Nickenich near Andernach to faraway Rome, to the papal elite Gregorian University.
How he became director of a seminary, more out of a sense of community than a sense of career. In 2009, when Reinhard Marx, the doer, became archbishop in Munich, Pope Benedict XVI made. the quiet Ackermann to his successor.
Quietly, he has since set accents: To allow the Protestant Church to join in the celebrations, there will be no indulgences at the traditional Holy Rock pilgrimage this year; some Catholics are incensed. But even he is not entirely comfortable with too much attention to the world: the interview in which he defends himself against the accusations was not given to SWR with its audience of millions – but to the church's own this site in Cologne. (Matthias Drobinski)
The article about Bishop Stephan Ackermann appeared at spiegel online 18.3.2012

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Christina Cherry
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