Those affected by sexual violence in the Catholic Church have turned to politicians with a cry for help. In an open letter to be published on Wednesday and in advance of the Süddeutsche Zeitung is available, several representatives of the Alliance for Affected Persons are particularly critical of the procedure for paying recognition benefits by the Catholic Church.
The authors call for state supervision of the Independent Commission (UKA), which recently decides on the award and the amount of benefits. In the event of a conflict, the regulation of the compensation must be checked by a neutral state ombudsman and clarified in an independent judiciary. Those affected must also be granted the right to network and self-organization in the form of a financed umbrella organization, demand the 24 signatories. Among them are Matthias Katsch, spokesman for the “Eckiger Tisch” initiative, Jens Windel from the Hildesheim Affected Initiative, the two former Cologne Advisory Councils Patrick Bauer and Karl Hauke and the Munich affected Agnes Wich.
The current procedure has only existed since January, the bishops had agreed in September 2020 on significantly higher recognition benefits. Until then, the Bishops’ Conference had usually recommended up to 5,000 euros per case. The UKA, a committee of external experts that works independently of the bishops, now decides on the new amounts. It should be based on the judgments of state courts, which would mean sums of up to 50,000 euros, the bishops had said.
There are hardly any five-digit sums
“That is completely wrong,” write those affected. “For never before had a court had to judge such monstrous crimes in general and also committed by priests.” In reality, the UKA would hardly approve five-digit sums. The application process is also secret: the victims are neither heard nor have they seen the files to find out which criteria the UKA uses to make a decision. “The very different payments remain incomprehensible for each individual.”
Jens Windel and Patrick Bauer had already asked the bishops to stop the recognition process in June. Now those affected turn directly to the Federal President, the Chancellor and the Chancellor candidates from the Union, SPD and Greens.
They are forced to take the path of recognition because they would already fail under civil law at the first hurdle – the statute of limitations, argue the parties concerned. This is exactly what they now perceive as a mockery: For decades, the church has not adhered to secular law and trampled human dignity – but now it is making use of secular law with a view to limitation periods.
As a corporation under public law, the Catholic Church did not offer the guarantee it required of complying with the applicable state law for years, write those concerned. “Because the church and politics systematically ignore the disregard of the Basic Law and Canon Law, their responsibility lies with us former children.”
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