Saturday, July 10, 2010

Austrian bishop Klaus Kung emphasizes the efficacy of the commission on sex abuse

Austrian bishop Klaus Kung emphasizes the efficacy of the commission on sex abuse

2010-07-10 08:00:00

Austrian bishops have asked that all priests who have committed abuses turn themselves in to authorities. They've also asked victims to name their alleged abusers despite the pain caused by reopening wounds. “In Austria there is no mandatory reporting. We comply with what the person who has suffered sexual abuse wants,” said bishop Klaus Kung.

In April the Austrian bishops launched a national commission to investigate sex abuse allegations. The commission is funded by the Church but does not include clergy and is headed by a woman, the former governor of Styria province.

Msgr. Klaus Kung
Bishop of St. Pölten (Austria)
“Sometimes people go to a priest because they feel comfortable with him. But it also makes sense that if they've have a bad experience with a priest, they won't feel comfortable talking with one. That's why it's useful to have other people who can listen.”

The commission has gathered 193 allegations in the three months since it began. Bishop Kung says the experience has been very positive despite similar commissions existing at the local level. He hopes to help the Church and society to understand the scale of the problem.

Msgr. Klaus Kung
Bishop of St. Pölten (Austria)
“Many who make the call don't want anything but to talk to someone and to make sure that it doesn't happen again. And I think that's fair for them.”

The Austrian Church has instituted the Foundation for Victim's Care, which will compensate victims and pay for their therapy.

One of the Commission's tasks is to promote collaboration between the Church and State in the case of allegations.

Bishop Kung believes that one of the way to solve this crisis is to focus on education, and that the right place to do that is within the family.

Msgr. Klaus Kung
Bishop of St. Pölten (Austria)
“The family is the most important school in life and in love—not just sexuality, but learning to give oneself to make peace with others—it's the best school of faith.”
;
The Austrian Church hopes to be an example for how to put Church policies into practice by helping to heal victim's wounds and to bring justice to them.

During Holy Week Cardinal Christoph Schönborn organized a meeting of sex abuse victims in the cathedral of Vienna. It was a ceremony of reparation and of begging forgiveness for not having paid enough attention to the victims.