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‘We will continue to fight’: German church abuse victims say payouts not enough

German bishops have announced higher compensation for victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church but victims say the proposals fall far short of expectations.

'We will continue to fight': German church abuse victims say payouts not enough
Archive photo shows a man walking in a church in Bremen. Photo: DPA

Each victim could be awarded up to €50,000 and even more in the most serious cases, bishop Stephan Ackermann said at the close of a four-day episcopal gathering in the western city of Mainz.

The Church currently pays victims an average sum of €5,000 as well as covering their therapy fees.

Campaigners have long complained that this is not enough.

The Eckiger Tisch victims' group has demanded a one-off sum of around €300,000 per person.

READ ALSO: Germany's embattled Catholic church elects reformist leader

But several high-ranking Church officials have rejected the proposals as too costly.

“At least we have clarity now,” Matthias Katsch from Eckiger Tisch said on Tuesday, accusing the Church of limiting itself to the “minimum of what is legally enforceable”.

“The Church in Germany is not prepared to take responsibility for its crimes,” he said.

“It does not want to admit the second crime of disguise, cover-up and concealment committed by the institution.”

The group said it would “continue to fight for real compensation”, reported the Tagesschau on Thursday.

An independent commission had recommended two solutions – either a one-off payment of €300,000 or an individual compensation ranging between €40,000 and €400,000 dependent on the severity of the crime

A study commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference and released in 2018 showed that 1,670 clergymen had committed some form of sexual attack against 3,677 minors, mostly boys, between 1946 and 2014.

READ ALSO: German Catholic church apologises as scale of child abuse laid bare

On Tuesday, the bishops chose Georg Bätzing, the reformist bishop of Limburg, as their new leader to succeed leftist Cardinal Reinhard Marx.

Bätzing will be tasked with steering the Church through multiple crises.

As well as dealing with the fallout from the sexual abuse scandal, it is seeking to answer divisive questions on issues such as priestly celibacy and the role of women.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about Catholicism in Germany

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ISLAM

Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday

The mayor of Cologne has announced a two-year pilot project that will allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer on the Muslim day of rest each week.

Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday
The DITIP mosque in Cologne. Photo: dpa | Henning Kaiser

Mosques in the city of the banks of the Rhine will be allowed to call worshippers to prayer on Fridays for five minutes between midday and 3pm.

“Many residents of Cologne are Muslims. In my view it is a mark of respect to allow the muezzin’s call,” city mayor Henriette Reker wrote on Twitter.

In Muslim-majority countries, a muezzin calls worshippers to prayer five times a day to remind people that one of the daily prayers is about to take place.

Traditionally the muezzins would call out from the minaret of the mosque but these days the call is generally broadcast over loudspeakers.

Cologne’s pilot project would permit such broadcasts to coincide with the main weekly prayer, which takes place on a Friday afternoon.

Reker pointed out that Christian calls to prayer were already a central feature of a city famous for its medieval cathedral.

“Whoever arrives at Cologne central station is welcomed by the cathedral and the sound of its church bells,” she said.

Reker said that the call of a muezzin filling the skies alongside church bells “shows that diversity is both appreciated and enacted in Cologne”.

Mosques that are interested in taking part will have to conform to guidelines on sound volume that are set depending on where the building is situated. Local residents will also be informed beforehand.

The pilot project has come in for criticism from some quarters.

Bild journalist Daniel Kremer said that several of the mosques in Cologne were financed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “a man who opposes the liberal values of our democracy”, he said.

Kremer added that “it’s wrong to equate church bells with the call to prayer. The bells are a signal without words that also helps tell the time. But the muezzin calls out ‘Allah is great!’ and ‘I testify that there is no God but Allah.’ That is a big difference.”

Cologne is not the first city in North Rhine-Westphalia to allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer.

In a region with a large Turkish immigrant community, mosques in Gelsenkirchen and Düren have been broadcasting the religious call since as long ago as the 1990s.

SEE ALSO: Imams ‘made in Germany’: country’s first Islamic training college opens its doors

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