BERLIN (Reuters) - The German Jesuit order rejected on Tuesday a call to speed up talks on compensation for victims of abuse by Jesuit priests, and said it would tackle the issue at a meeting involving several organizations in September.
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic order, reacting to the call by the victims’ group “Eckiger Tisch” (“Square Table”), said the round table group on abuse set up by the government in March would discuss the compensation question in September.
“I appreciate the impatience of ‘Eckiger Tisch’,” Jesuit spokesman Thomas Busch said, “But there will be no special arrangement before September with one particular group ... This is about more than one group — the round table deals with a range of abuse cases.”
The Catholic Church has been rocked by hundreds of allegations in the past few months of sexual and physical abuse in Church-run schools. In January, 25 students came forward alleging abuse at the Jesuit-run Canisius Kolleg in Berlin.
The ensuing investigation by the order itself cited 205 allegations of sexual abuse by priests at its schools in Germany stretching back as far as the 1950s, and was critical of attempts at a cover-up.
An Eckiger Tisch spokesman told German media the Jesuit order was stalling discussions about compensation.
“We are impatient and angry about the stalling tactics of the order,” spokesman Matthias Katsch told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. “They are hiding behind the round table.”
Cases of abuse by Catholic priests have emerged in North America and countries across Europe, and bishops in Ireland, Belgium and Germany have been forced to step down.
Last week, public prosecutors dropped an investigation into Robert Zollitsch, the head of the Catholic Church in Germany, for allegedly aiding and abetting a priest known to have abused children by letting him get a new parish job.
The prosecutors said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Zollitsch.
Pope Benedict has also been accused of turning a blind eye to an abuse case in 1980 in his native Germany.
Editing by Stephen Brown and Tim Pearce