The Federal Government's independent commissioner for questions of child sexual abuse, Kerstin Claus, has accused the Protestant Church of lagging behind in dealing with the Catholic Church.

In 2010, the public focus was very much on the so-called abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

It was only in 2018 that the review commission attached to the Independent Commissioner was able to publicly and clearly name the deficits in the Protestant church with the "Hearing Churches" and a case study presented there.

Heike Schmoll

Political correspondent in Berlin, responsible for “Bildungswelten”.

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The case study has shown that there are also internal church structures in the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) "that encourage abuse and that crimes were also covered up there," said Claus of the FAZ. That was at the latest after the hearing in 2018 also forced the EKD to deal intensively with the process of coming to terms with it, both in the regional churches and in the diaconal work.

The synods in 2018 and 2019 were important stages in creating internal structures that deal with factors that encourage abuse and develop ways to counteract them.

Stronger focus on reappraisal in the evangelical church

According to Claus, the increased media interest and the associated visibility of those affected in the Protestant context have had a strengthening effect on the necessary processes in recent years.

Increasingly, the action or inaction of the Protestant Church was publicly critically perceived.

Two years ago, not least against this background, the Protestant Church commissioned a similarly comprehensive study on sexual violence against children and young people as the Catholic Church commissioned the MHG study in 2018.

The study should be available by the end of 2023.

"The results and the scientific recommendations will change the public as well as the church-internal debate once again," said Claus.

From their point of view, the evangelical church could certainly have positioned itself more clearly based on the 2010 debate and set out on the right path.

So it was once again those affected, their reports and the associated media response that made these processes possible.

"In this respect, it is immensely important that the debate with the publication of the EKD study also acquires a scientific quality and perspective in the Protestant context," Claus affirmed.