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Representatives of those affected: Dealing with abuse is too timid

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Representatives of those affected: Dealing with abuse is too timid

In the opinion of those affected, the Protestant Church is too timid in dealing with cases of abuse. Church representatives, on the other hand, see a generational task and speak of a necessary cultural change.

Loccum (epd). Those affected by abuse have called on the Protestant Church to be more decisive in dealing with cases of sexual violence. The issue must be brought into the smallest church, said Detlev Zander, representative of those affected, at the weekend in Loccum near Nienburg during a panel discussion with representatives of the Hanover regional church, including regional bishop Ralf Meister. Zander urgently warned: “We gave you our stories. Make something of it!”

Zander also appealed directly to Bishop Meister: “One of your tasks is not to delegate this away. You have to keep your hand over it.” There are many young pastors in the Protestant Church who want to advance prevention and processing, said the spokesman for those affected, who belongs to the Sexual Violence Participation Forum of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and Diakonie. But they are often thwarted. “I would like to support you.” The regional churches would have to create resources and invest in money for these tasks.

The regional bishop responded with an admission of guilt: “Of course I feel guilty – guilty for what happened in the church in the past.” Although the Protestant Church is now doing a lot against sexual violence, Meister admitted: “It’s enough “Not at the back yet.” The panel discussion was part of a conference at the Loccum Evangelical Academy under the title “Sexualized violence in the church and diakonia: workshop on coming to terms with it”.

Bishop Meister also said that the fight against sexual violence requires a kind of cultural change in the Protestant Church in addition to structural changes. The church must say goodbye to false ideals. It will take time to change this: “This is a dispute that will not be resolved in half a generation.”

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According to the representative of those affected, Nancy Janz, processing and prevention only started through the commitment of those affected: “If we hadn’t existed, the Protestant Church and the Diakonie would not be sitting here today.” Those affected also had to fight against a lot of resistance must, said Janz, who is also a member of the participation forum. It is important to talk to those affected: “They have a completely different perspective.”

The regional church councilor Kerstin Gäfgen-Track, who is responsible for education, said that the church is currently under great pressure when working with young people. “We have to deal with the fact that some of the ease is lost in youth work because this topic always resonates.” The Hanover regional church has around 10,000 volunteer youth workers. They would all have to be regularly trained on how to deal with sexual violence. Gäfgen-Track summed up: “We have to endure the pressure and keep working.”

The board spokesman for Diakonie in Lower Saxony, Hans-Joachim Lenke, advocated a reliable reporting system. It is necessary for the individual social member institutions to report cases of sexual violence to the Diakonie umbrella organization. Some time ago there was an employee who changed jobs every two years and committed abuse again at each new location. “This could be noticed if we had a reporting system. We will try to establish it.”

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