German Catholic Church decides on new compensation model for abuse victims

The Conference of German Catholic bishops has announced plans to compensate abuse victims up to €50,000 each. Much more than the previous average payout, but much less than survivors had hoped for.

A statement by the Conference of German Catholic Bishops revealed new plans on Thursday to pay survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests compensation of up to €50,000 ($58,000).

Read more: Germany: Over 1,400 youths accuse Catholic religious orders of sexual abuse

The compensation consists of a one-off payment for each affected individual as determined by an independent decision-making body, the chair of the Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, announced in the central German city of Fulda.

Victims will also be able to request that costs for individual or couples therapy be paid for by the Church.

Compensation claims determined by independent body

The new model would come into effect from the beginning of 2021. Until now, abuse survivors have received an average of €5,000 in compensation.

Read more:German Catholic Church is losing priests and parishes

Bätzing emphasized that a unified framework would be guaranteed for all 27 dioceses and that solutions found satisfactory in previous years would continue.

The independent body to determine the validity of claims will be made up of professionals from the fields of medicine, law, psychology and pedagogy, and may not be employed by the Church.

This body will not only decide on the amounts to be paid, but also sort out the payments themselves in hopes of speeding up the process.

The victims of abuse had demanded greater sums in compensation, up to six-figures, especially for those who had been left unable to work. An independent working group at a previously held conference had suggested up to €400,000.

Concerns over lack of victim involvement

Matthias Katsch, a representative from the victims’ initiative “Square Table,” said on Wednesday that people were worried about what the administrative, financial and legal experts in the Catholic Church had thought up without consulting the victims themselves.

Read more: How a church in Germany posthumously reinstated a gay clergyman

Katsch considers the process to apply for the compensation even more problematic than the amount being offered. He spoke of the possible “deep retraumatization” of having to go through such a process in an unprofessional setting.

A study released at the Bishops’ Conference two years ago revealed that between 1946 and 2014, at least 1,670 Catholic clergy members carried out acts of abuse against 3,677 mostly male children. This is thought to be the tip of the iceberg.

ab/js (AFP, dpa, KNA)


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