Never again treat those affected as supplicants

Never again treat those affected as supplicants

Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig © Matthias Jung (KNA)

The Federal Government Commissioner for Abuse, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, sees progress in the way the Protestant Church deals with the scandals of the past. But there is still a lot to do, he says.

epd: This Tuesday, you will address the synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) in Dresden. At the EKD synod a year ago, an eleven-point plan for dealing with the abuse problem was adopted. Has the church moved forward in the last twelve months?

Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig (abuse commissioner of the German government): Important steps have been completed, but more must follow. A central contact point has been set up and independent studies have been tendered for the reappraisal.

It is also important that a victim advisory board be established at the EKD. The Council of Commissioners, with which I work, is a strong and very competent body.

I cannot give unqualified praise, but the reappraisal has indeed gained momentum. It is central that the Protestant Church create a binding foundation for the comprehensive processing of the abuse scandals. It must never happen again that those affected are treated as troublemakers and abusers. Rather, they must receive support in their individual processing and be endowed with strong rights.

That's what we're negotiating with the Council of Commissioners at the moment.

epd: How should the Protestant Church deal with compensation claims?

Rorig: The Protestant Church, just like the Catholic Church, will not be able to avoid giving a response. The question of compensation must be answered with the involvement of those affected. A framework must be created to discuss proposals and expectations, but also the financial possibilities.

The procedure so far has been a bit opaque.

We don't know exactly what was done in which regional church. This rather individual approach to support services should be critically reflected upon. However, I also do not think much of simply throwing numbers around and having a competition for the highest sum.

epd: Mr. Rorig, what message would you like to give to the synod?
Rorig: I want to raise awareness for the dramatic social problem that thousands of girls and boys in Germany are exposed to sexual violence. Digital media are adding new types of acts and forms of sexual violence. We must not simply accept that ten years after the so-called abuse scandal, sexual violence is still sadly part of everyday life for many children and young people.

I would like to see sexual abuse prevented and brought to an end as quickly as possible through involvement in Protestant institutions. For this, everyone must look and stand up for protection and help: No affected child should be overlooked. We know from the work of the Processing Commission how much children suffer when confidants or confidants remain inactive and silent.

In terms of prevention and intervention as well as processing, the church must not only want the maximum but also do the maximum.

The interview was conducted by Bettina Markmeyer.

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