“There was raging”

After the extent of the abuse cases with the Regensburger Domspatzen became now well-known, experts praise the concept for the processing of the acts of violence. But in their view, the comprehensive reappraisal came very late.

The cathedral conductor of the Regensburg Cathedral Boys' Choir, Roland Buchner, has made serious accusations against his predecessor in office, Georg Ratzinger. "There was a system of fear," Buchner told the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit" about the Pope's brother's time as choir director. "This must come to light, even if it hurts," demanded Buechner, who has been a choir director since 1994.

The German government's abuse commissioner, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, accused former Regensburg bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of failing to conduct a comprehensive review of the abuse cases at the Domspatzen.

Do not trivialize violence

Buchner warned against trivializing the acts of violence against 547 former choirboys. It is true that most of the cases did not involve abuse, but rather beatings. "However, these were not 'only' slaps in the face, but downright abuse. It was raged. They were bodily injuries."Ratzinger was "impulsive, even fanatical" when he asserted his ideas of musical quality". At rehearsals, he said, he has been relentless. After that, he could be the most meek person in the world. Some students saw him as a role model, others feared him as a thug."

On Tuesday, the lawyer responsible for clearing up the abuse cases, Ulrich Weber, presented the final report of a two-year investigation in Regensburg. It emerges that for decades pupils were beaten and sexually abused at the Domspatzen. Around 500 singers were victims of physical violence, 67 were affected by sexual violence.

Buechner came to the post of choir director in 1994. All the cases of violence listed in the final report of the Regensburg diocese were in the period before that. On the question whether he had knowledge of acts of violence, Buechner says: "I knew, there was something."He regretted "not having approached the victims offensively" and not having "pushed even harder for comprehensive clarification". "With the final report, the clarification is done, must follow reappraisal."

Criticism of Cardinal Muller

Meanwhile, the abuse commissioner of the German government, Rorig, criticized the former Regensburg Bishop and current Curia Cardinal Muller: "Muller has always spoken of individual cases, but has not investigated the structural failures," Rorig told the "Passauer Neue Presse" (online). "It would be desirable for those affected that he would at least now apologize for the protracted reappraisal."

At the same time, Rorig praised Regensburg's four-pillar concept for coming to terms with the abuse cases. This included the clarification as through the final report, but also assistance, recognition and scientific reappraisal. "The reappraisal process in Regensburg should now be a model for the Christian sector, but also for all other organizations to which children and young people are entrusted," said Rorig. He also called for higher minimum penalties for child sexual abuse. The minimum sentence of three months is too light, they say.

The former abuse commissioner of the federal government, Christine Bergmann (SPD), said on Tuesday evening on Deutschlandfunk radio that there had been many cases of sexual violence at the Domspatzen over the years, and that one could no longer speak of individual cases. In the choir there was a "pretty brutal style of upbringing" with a lot of psychological as well as sexual violence: "This is not something that happens by accident," the former family minister emphasized.

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Christina Cherry
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