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Trier abbot calls for monk's abuse victims to come forward

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Trier abbot calls for monk's abuse victims to come forward
Photo: DPA
11:38 CEST+02:00
A German abbot has appealed to his congregation for people who were abused by a monk in the 1970s and 1980s to come forward.

Abbot Ignatius Maaß said he was working through the consequences of the admission of a monk that he had sexually abused three young people – after they came forward and accused him.

“I know of three people who were abused,” the head of the Benedictine St Matthias Abbey in Trier on the Mosel River told The Local on Monday.

“One came to my attention through information from the other brothers; the other two had contacted the commissioner for abuse. At the end of my service on Sunday I asked for any further victims to contact us.”

The German Catholic Church established a network of such commissioners in the wake of previous abuse revelations. A decision was also made not to automatically go to the authorities in the case of new allegations being made.

“In the interests of protecting the privacy of those concerned, I cannot release any further information on the victims,” said Abbot Maaß, declining to even reveal the gender of the victims.

He said the three victims had themselves not wanted to go to the authorities with their allegations.

“We respected that. Abuse is about disempowering people and we didn't want to do that to them again by not respecting their wishes.”

He said the victims were under 18 years old when they were abused by a certain Brother Bernhard who was a vicar at the time. He is now 79 and has not had contact with young people for a long time, said the abbot.

“Next year he will be 80, and has not had any pastoral duties for some time, and also has not had contact with young people,” said Abbot Maaß

“When we heard of the allegations, I banned him from working as a priest – he cannot say mass. That is certainly a sanction for a priest.”

One of the three victims has already received some financial payment in line with recommendations from the Bishops' Conference, said Abbot Maaß, referring to the national decision-making body of the church.

He said that if further recommendations were made for money to be paid, that would be done.

“One cannot speak of compensation where abuse is concerned. But money is paid in recognition of the suffering of the victims,” he said.

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