Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg has called the previous approach to abuse cases in the Catholic Church "wrong". In the interview he talks about the processing of cases, prevention and compensation for victims.
CBA: Archbishop, what went wrong that the ie of abuse was not dealt with in the Catholic Church for so long?
Schick: Many cases of abuse are only now being reported. Abuse was taboo for too long. In earlier cases that were uncovered, the church and also other institutions, from today's perspective, acted wrongly. It was thought that serious admonishment, punishment and subsequent transfer could end the abuse. It was not seen that pedophile perpetrators commit crimes again and again if they are not punished and treated, and afterwards, if they are deployed, they are under constant observation and receive constant psychotherapeutic help. Everything must also be done to ensure that they can no longer be active in children's and youth work.
CBA: What must the Catholic Church change in order to prevent abuse in the future??
Schick: The church must come to terms with the abuse cases of the past in all openness and radicalness. This includes that crime scene analyses are made. It must be asked in which places, in which milieus, boarding schools, schools, youth groups have assaults occurred? Why were there rumors and not open talk? Why did those responsible not look, but look the other way?? Why was there this cloak of silence?? Precise profiles of offenders must also be drawn up. What character traits, predispositions, defects do these persons have, why did they get into youth work or maybe they forced their way into it? The acts themselves must be precisely distinguished: Was it pedophilic abuse or abusive assault or sexual harassment or corporal punishment? Only in this way can we obtain accurate knowledge about the abuse, from which the appropriate consequences for prevention can then be drawn.
CBA: What can prevention look like in concrete terms?
Schick: In education, sexuality and its deformities, immaturity, and unclear or misguided sexual orientation must be discussed. Candidates for the priesthood, as well as for the teaching and educational professions, and for all professions that deal with children and adolescents, must come to terms with their sexuality and their ability to relate to others. Psychologists and psychotherapists must also be called in for this purpose. For the priestly profession and all social professions we need professionally well-qualified and humanly mature persons. Also in the advanced training still some can be done. In the Archdiocese of Bamberg, several events have already been held for priests and pastoral staff in the ordinariate on the subject of sexual abuse and prevention, as well as on the proper and responsible handling of distance and closeness. There must be no gray areas where abuse can happen. Abuse must never again become a taboo subject. Children and young people must also be approached. For example, the "Strong Kids" project can help them fight back better. You must also be empowered to report abuse or assault.
CBA: How can we prevent a climate of denunciation from being fostered by involving the public prosecutor's office too quickly??
Schick: I am not afraid of that. Denunciators are very quickly recognized by trained judicial officials. It should all come out now. It should be encouraged that everything is reported, even if it happened a long time ago. This boil needs to be lanced, it all needs to come out for healing to happen. But it is also important to mention all cases of abuse. Most occur in the family environment, others in schools, sports clubs, boarding schools and youth groups. Abuse is a social problem that must be eradicated.
CBA: You have suggested that the perpetrators should compensate the victims. But to what extent is the church also called upon to do this??
Chic: The victims must be helped. That is the most important thing. According to our law, the perpetrators are the first to confess, apologize, make amends and help the victims of abuse. If a perpetrator is unable to do so, for example because he has died, the church or the state, the sports club or the organization where the abuse occurred must consider with the victims how help can be provided. Interview: Christian Wolfel