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Some sex abusers 'should work in church'

Published: 18 May 2012 10:49 GMT+02:00

The contrasting comments came on the second day of the 98th Katholikentag, a major conference that is expected to draw 60,000 Catholics to Mannheim over the weekend.

There should not be a blanket ban from employing priests who have committed sexual crimes, argued Bishop of Trier Stephen Ackermann, the church official responsible for dealing with the sex abuse scandal in the church.

There are "a number of motives," Ackermann told a crowd listening to a debate on the subject. It made sense to differentiate among the different types of offenders, he said. "Otherwise we could slide into a dynamic that calls for all of them to be imprisoned," he said.

His comments were met with disgust from a sexual abuse victim in the audience, who said it was incomprehensible that offenders continued to work for the church.

Hefty criticism also came from Friedhelm Hengsbach, a theologian who specialises in social ethics. Hengsbach delivered the opening speech of an alternative conference to the mainstream Catholic one underway.

The church's structures were crusty, old and full of "rust, moths and mildew," he said. In a fiery speech, Hengsbach said the church hierarchy tried to prevent reform and instead presented the structural crisis within the church as a crisis of faith.

But some momentum for change was evident from a speech by Berlin Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki.

He told a crowd on Thursday that the church should view long-term, faithful homosexual relationships as they do heterosexual ones.

"When two homosexuals take responsibility for one another, if they deal with each other in a faithful and long-term way, then you have to see it in the same way as heterosexual relationships," Woelki told an astonished crowd, according to a story in the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Woekli acknowledged that the church saw the relationship between a man and a woman as the basis for creation, but added that it was time to think further about the church's attitude toward same sex relationships.

Klaus Mertes, a Jesuit priest who made the sexual abuse scandal at a German Catholic school public, told the crowd that the church needed to think about how it can change.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, the daughter of a protestant minister, was due to address the crowd on Friday. She will speak about the ageing society.

The Central Council of Muslims in Germany has invited Catholics to attend a Friday service, the group said. The Catholic conference opened Wednesday evening and runs until Sunday.

DPA/The Local/mw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

14:27 May 18, 2012 by The-ex-pat
There are "a number of motives," Ackermann told a crowd listening to a debate on the subject. It made sense to differentiate among the different types of offenders, he said. "Otherwise we could slide into a dynamic that calls for all of them to be imprisoned," he said.

Heaven forbid that a kiddy fiddler should end up in prison.............
20:13 May 18, 2012 by raandy
Lets call these priest that victimize children. " criminal child abusers" and let the police deal with this not the cronyism of the antiquated church.

Deal with adult homosexuals as you will, makes no difference to me ,as the church is source of social ills not social solutions.
22:43 May 18, 2012 by strahlungsamt
"Otherwise we could slide into a dynamic that calls for all of them to be imprisoned,"

He makes that sound like a bad thing.
00:38 May 19, 2012 by AltSchwabinger
If the abuser were a Democratic congressman, voters could keep him employed by constantly re-electing him as they did with Gerry Studds who had an affair with a 17-year-old page boy.

And, of course, Roman Polanski (who forcibly raped a 13-year-old girl) was just the victim of a witch hunt by puritanical American prudes.

And if Woody Allen wants to leave his wife and marry his step daughter, well, you know, he's just one of those eccentric artistic types.

But if it's a Catholic priest, let's throw him in jail and throw away the key!
14:56 May 19, 2012 by SMP TURLISH
Quite frankly, if Bishop Stephen Ackermann truly believes such a thing he should not be a bishop - anywhere. Known, credibly accused or convicted sexual predators should be removed from the priesthood and many of them should be imprisoned because of their crimes.

A "blanket ban?" Absolutely.

Because of the horrific and widespread conspiracy by bishops in the United States most of the priest/sexual predators escaped criminal prosecution.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

Advocate for Victim/Survivors & Legislative Reform

New Castle, Delaware, USA

maturlishmdsnd@yahoo.com

"There should not be a blanket ban from employing priests who have committed sexual crimes, argued Bishop of Trier Stephen Ackermann, the church official responsible for dealing with the sex abuse scandal in the church."
10:42 May 22, 2012 by australian
Surely when Catholic leaders cease being Catholic, they should be moved along?
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