According to a report on RP online from September 27th, 2018, according to a study, 3677 minors are said to have been abused by 1670 members of the Catholic Church between 1946 and 2014. But most perpetrators probably do not have to fear criminal consequences, since many of the victims remain silent out of shame and hurt. On the other hand, many cases are long statute-barred. The criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse is ten years, in particularly severe cases 20 years from the victim’s majority. The statute of limitations for the abuse of minors is only five years. The Münster Vicar General Norbert Köster called for an end to the statute of limitations for sexual abuse: “In my view, that would be a key signal to the victims, and it would be clear to the perpetrators that they would not get away with their crimes.” (rp-online.de)
In Germany alone there have been 3,677 victims of abuse since 1946 in the Catholic Church. Nobody knows the number of unreported cases. What a shame! Just this week it became known that even the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. as cardinal of Freising knew about cases of abuse and is said to have covered them up.
What is going wrong in the Catholic Church, which proudly describes itself as the follower of Jesus and whose self-image is to be the body of Christ? A Jesus who calls the children rightful heirs of the kingdom of heaven, (Then little children were brought to him that he should lay his hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Allow the little children, and don’t forbid them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like these.” He laid his hands on them, and departed from there. (Mt 19:13-15, WEB, biblegateway.com) and who threatens those with worst consequences, who abuse children (Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a huge millstone were hung around his neck and that he were sunk in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:5-6, WEB, biblegateway.com).
Who sees herself as follower of a Jesus, who himself becomes a powerless victim and dies on the cross. But powerlessness and sacrifice is not the thing of the church. A look at church history shows this. As a state church, it gained enormous power since the 4th century and became an institution that was even able to appoint and overthrow emperors and kings. (See for example “Walk to Canossa”, 1076/77)
I can still well remember the obedient and childlike devotion to the Catholic priest in rural areas during my childhood. In the evangelical area, too, people spoke of “Mr. Pastor” with a sometimes reverential undertone. And this worship was linked to everything that was sacred to the believer: the church as a building and as an institution, the pope, the priest, the saints – and of course God and Jesus. Today one can perhaps hardly understand what a shock it would have meant for the abused child’s soul to speak out about this monstrosity of abuse. How deep the hurt must be that few in adulthood are even capable of speaking about what happened, now after all these years!
Under the Christian cloak of forgiveness of sins in penance, priests were transferred and allowed to continue their work as child molesters instead of suspending and reporting them. Those who knew about it and kept silent and gave the perpetrators a free hand, made themselves complicit in the sexual abuse of children. It is absolutely incomprehensible to me how naïve, stupid and unworldly, knowing so little of the human, the superiors of the child molesters could be, not to know that they will continue to do it, despite a maybe even tearful confession.
When looking for the cause, there is now a lot of talk about the fact that celibacy and the suppression of sexuality in the Catholic Church have contributed to the cases of abuse. I don’t see it that way, even if I consider celibacy to be inhuman, because sexuality can be controlled and redirected into good channels, such as creativity and charity.
Just as there is no statute of limitations for murder, there must be no statute of limitations for the murder of a child’s soul.
We need to make children strong personalities through love and acceptance, who can defend themselves and are not afraid of adults and church authorities.
We do not need churches that put power, money and reputation above the needs of people who preach humility and are powerful themselves, but churches that are true and follow the crucified Christ. (Volker Schunck)