The bishops of Regensburg and Freiburg in Germany have pledged to implement “ever-more-effective and sustainable preventive measures” against clergy child sex abuse and to provide monthly compensation payouts for “needy” victims.
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Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg promised to intensify preventive measures against pedophilia in the wake of new reports into abuse in diocesan cathedral schools.
“The foremost aim now is to ensure justice and satisfaction to all those who were allowed to suffer, to demonstrate our sorrow and learn for the sake of future generations”, Voderholzer said.
The bishop was speaking at the presentation of two new reports on violence and abuse in Regensburg Catholic schools and in the diocese’s famous Domspatzen choir.
Georg Ratzinger, brother of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, was director of the choir for thirty years.
Over 500 Domspatzen choir members suffered physical and emotional abuse between 1945 and 1995. It is thought that up to 700 children could also have suffered sexual abuse.
The two new reports attribute the violence to “institutional inertia” on the part of the Church and schools and to “opaque internal structures”.
Bishop Voderholzer admitted that abuse cases such as those in the diocesan schools and in the Domspatzen choir had been his “most depressing experience” as a bishop.
The prelate repeated his being “deeply guilt-ridden and full of shame” for the abuse and said the Regensburg Church had paid 3.78 million euros in compensation to 376 victims.
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For his part, Freiburg Archbishop Stephan Burger promised to implement monthly compensation payments for “needy” abuse victims in what would be a pioneer program in Germany.
Burger was presenting the first results of a commission of investigation into abuse in the local Church.
A 2018 report on pedophilia in the German Church revealed 442 young people had been abused by 190 priests and religious in the archidiocese of Freiburg between 1946 and 2014.
“The unvarnished view shows how comprehensive the failure was on the part of the institutional Church and how much work is still ahead of us”, said Burger.
The archbishop warned that childhood sex abuse has lifelong consequences and can seriously affect the health and professional prospects of victims.
Burger explained that the monthy compensation payouts will be limited to “needy” victims unable to provide a livelihood for themselves.
The archbishop added that the payments will be complemented with professional therapy sessions and other support measures.
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