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German Catholic Church to offer abuse victims compensation

FILE PHOTO: Glass windows based on x-ray photographs of human lungs are seen at the Church of The Holy Cross (Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche) in Munich, Germany, October 20, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

BERLIN (Reuters) - The victims of sexual abuse in Germany’s Catholic Church can apply for compensation payments of up to 50,000 euros from next year, the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) said on Thursday.

According to a study from 2018 on abuse in the Catholic Church, at least 3,677 minors were victims of sexual violence by at least 1,670 members of the clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. Experts, say, however, the number of unreported cases could be as high as 100,000.

The one-off payments, which will be allowed from Jan. 1, will be determined individually for each applicant by an independent committee. In addition, victims can be reimbursed for therapy costs, said DBK Chairman Georg Baetzing.

However, the payouts fall short of victims’ demands.

The Eckiger Tisch victims’ group has in the past called for payments of several hundred thousand euros, arguing many of those affected are unable to work. It has also criticised procedures victims have to through to receive the money.

However, the decision at least provides clarity for victims as inconsistencies between dioceses on payments have led to much criticism.

“This order will guarantee a uniform framework in all 27 (arch-)dioceses,” said Baetzing in a statement.

A previous head of the Catholic Church in Germany had in 2018 apologised for the failure and pain suffered by the thousands of children sexually abused by its clergy. An abuse scandal has shaken the Catholic Church in many countries, from Ireland to Argentina and the United States.

Thursday’s decision was one of the main items on the agenda of the autumn meeting of the DBK bishops conference in Fulda.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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