The bishops in Austria want to improve the handling of cases of sexual abuse. At its spring plenary session, the Austrian Bishops' Conference decided to introduce uniform regulations throughout the country. In addition, the bishops warned against growing xenophobia in the country.

In addition, the work of the episcopal abuse commissioners should be better networked and the Catholic religious orders should be included in their work, according to a statement published in Sankt Polten on Friday. "What is decisive is the clear and consistent handling of concrete cases of suspicion and accusations by church leaders," the bishops said. The basis for the nationwide rules should be those in force in the Archdiocese of Vienna. Until the summer, a project group should work out an overall concept. With "shame and sadness" the bishops admit that in the past the perpetrators had often been protected more than the victims. For sexual abuse there can only be remorse, the request for forgiveness and the effort to heal the wounds. The bishops called on all victims of abuse to contact the commissioners of the dioceses. Likewise, they called for the perpetrators to be held honestly accountable.

Christina Cherry