German church leader promises to fight against sexual violence


Central Europe


The new German church president, Rev Annette Kurschus, serving Christmas meals for poor people, December 2015. Photo EPA, Caroline Seidel

Dealing with victims of sexual abuse will be the main point of Annette Kurschus. That was what the new German church president said at a press conference after her election on Wednesday.

According to Kurschus, the preoccupation with sexual violence must be anchored in the church structure, Idea reports. The German Evangelical Church (EKD) have to unite in their procedures for processing those scandals.

Church lacks vision

The victims of sexual abuse in the church demanded a radical change in church culture before the Synodal meeting. According to them the EKD lacks a shared vision for dealing with abuse. The victims find it unacceptable that perpetrators continue to be employed in church. Member of the advisory board for the affected, Detlev Zander, states that "only through clarity can the healing process occur."

Henning Stein, spokesperson for the victims, requests the EKD to set up a truth commission. President Kurschus, however, does not see much in the idea of setting up such a commission to investigate cases of sexual abuse. In her opinion, no one can possess the truth, and "truth commissions are investigative commissions that are supposed to solve crimes without imposing penalties on the perpetrators."

Annette Kurschus during a memorial service for the people killed in the Germanwings plane crash, April 2015. Photo AFP, Oliver Berg

Synod supports victims

The EKD Synod spoke out its support for the victims of sexual abuse. It concluded that the church needs to find a new structure so that participation of the affected in finding prevention measures and accompanying and information rights is improved. Katholisch.de, citing the literal motion for a resolution, states that "the Presidium ensures that the perspectives of those affected on the content of the synod's work are incorporated and discussed with them."

Idea writes that sexual violence will be on the agenda for the coming term of 6 years. "Prevention and reappraisal should be promoted in every synodal meeting. The necessary financial and human resources will be made available for this."

Hiding behind the Catholics

Critics accuse the EKD of hiding behind the Roman Catholic Church, Deutschlandfunk Kultur writes. Detlev Zander: "The protestant church has always said: It is not that bad with us; we only have individual cases." In Zander's opinion, the EKD should publicly acknowledge that there are thousands of cases in the protestant church as well.



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