“Powerful appearance” necessary

The new chairman of the German Bishops' Conference Georg Batzing © Andreas Arnold

The new president of the German Bishops' Conference, Limburg's Bishop Georg Batzing, does not rule out a special permit for the diaconate for women. In addition, he defends the regulations on payments of compensation for pain and suffering for victims of abuse.

The president of the German Bishops' Conference, Limburg's Bishop Georg Batzing, is open to the diaconate of women. A so-called indult could be a decision at the end of the reform dialogue Synodal Way within the Catholic Church, said Batzing on Sunday in WDR5. A possible corresponding decision could then be "transported" to Rome. For such a step it needs a "powerful appearance" – also by the fact that bishops and laymen formulated their request together.

Equal rights for women most important challenge

Batzing had said after his election this week that he sees the equality of women in the Catholic Church as the most important challenge of his upcoming term of office. "The ie of women in the church is the most urgent ie we have for the future," the bishop told ARD's Morgenmagazin on Wednesday. Here the church has a lot of catching up to do. Catholic women waited impatiently for progress.

So far, ordination to the diaconate is only open to men. Married men can also be ordained as permanent deacons, who then take on tasks in worship and pastoral care. Likewise, the ordination of deacons is also a preliminary stage on the way to the priesthood.

Batzing defends pain and suffering regulations of the church

On the same radio program, Batzing defended new regulations on payments for pain and suffering for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. Batzing told WDR5 on Sunday that he thought the church could do justice to many victims with this system. At the same time, however, he also knows that there are people who are not satisfied with it. Batzing spoke of a "conscious decision" of the Bishops' Conference, to which also experts had advised.

Abuse victims can expect significantly higher payments in the future than before. The Bishops' Conference recently passed a resolution in principle at its plenary meeting in Mainz, Germany. According to Modell, the church is guided by the civil law table of compensation for pain and suffering and corresponding court rulings. This currently means sums between 5.000 and 50.000 euros per case. At the same time, the church always wants to pay the sums "at the upper end of the discretionary range".

Severity of each case to be assessed independently

An independent commission of lawyers, psychologists and medical experts is supposed to assess the severity of each case. The money is paid into a central account by the dioceses and religious congregations concerned according to their case numbers and financial strength, from where the payment is also made. Each diocese can decide for itself whether to rely on church tax funds or other sources.

The new procedure is the church's response to criticism. Since 2011, it usually had a lump sum of 5.000 euros "in recognition of the suffering suffered" given. The Federal Government Commissioner for Abuse, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, had expressed basically positive views on the new model. The victims' initiative "Eckiger Tisch" reacted with horror: The damages for pain and suffering that could be enforced in court were often "pathetically low".

Batzing told WDR5 that the system now found was "expandable" and could change. In addition, "special situations" are conceivable in which other sums could also be determined and paid out by the independent body.

"Can not exclude that I have not made mistakes"

As far as he himself was concerned, Batzing said that as vicar general and later as bishop he had been involved in numerous processes of coming to terms with abuse with individuals. "I can't rule out 100 percent that I haven't made any mistakes." He had tried to do justice to the people.

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Christina Cherry
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