The EKD and dealing with sexual abuse

WITHWhat counts about – mostly unspoken – self-image of the Evangelical Church is that sexual violence in its own ranks does not have the same extent as in the Catholic Church. In the meantime, however, it should also have become clear to the last functionary that one is still faced with a problem with the issue: The slow reappraisal damages the credibility of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). Several synodal meetings have been overshadowed by the topic, including the ongoing meeting in Bremen. Since the EKD suspended the Advisory Board in the spring, a public battle of interpretation between the church and the victims has broken out.

Reinhard Bingener

Political correspondent for Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen based in Hanover.

It starts with the numbers. The EKD points out that 942 cases had to be dealt with so far, many of which relate to home education after the war. Given the size of the institution, that would not be a high number of cases. Those affected, on the other hand, refer to a study by the Ulm psychiatrist Jörg Fegert, which extrapolated to more than 110,000 affected people. The EKD only recently initiated more detailed scientific studies.

Behind the Catholic Church on some points?

There is also a dispute over financial “recognition”. The EKD defines a framework of between 5,000 and 50,000 euros in its model order. Victims’ representatives complain that this is not enough. In addition, the church makes its own “institutional failure” a condition. The burden of proof is regulated in such a way that the church has to prove its innocence. But even that is not enough for many of those affected, at least not for those who consider the EKD’s approach as a whole to be unsuccessful. Opposite them is another group that would like to continue to cooperate pragmatically with the church. The feud between the two was an important reason why the Affected Advisory Board failed.

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The Braunschweig regional bishop Christoph Meyns, who is responsible for the EKD, promised on the Monday before the synod that “no stone would be left untried to find a new, better structure for the participation of those affected”. The promised evaluation of the procedural situation is still pending. The EKD has now commissioned a participation expert. Victims’ representatives also express criticism of this and speak of a “unilateral selection” that lacks “any professionalism”.

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