German Catholic school offers compensation for abuses

EarthTimes (“DPA,” February 17, 2011)

Ettal, Germany – A Catholic boys’ boarding school in Germany on Thursday offered ex-pupils financial compensation for physical and sexual abuse after a special investigator said their claims were true.

Ettal Abbey, a centuries-old Benedictine monastery in the Alps, is to set aside a fund of 500,000 euros (680,000 dollars) to pay up to 5,000 euros to each victim, depending on the gravity of the abuse.

Some sex abusers at the school are already dead, but police are investigating another former teacher. Most of the abuse happened so long ago that the statute of limitations prevents prosecution.

Hans-Joachim Jentsch, a retired judge, conducted the inquiry at the request of the Benedictine order of Catholic priests.

His report said seven of the men had either sexually abused or harassed boys at the school in the south-east of the country.

Eight teachers, including a former abbot, had used excessive force in punishments. In one case a priest broke a cane while hitting a boy. Several boys had suffered burst eardrums from blows to the head.

Revelations of sexual and other abuse in the Catholic church in Germany began to surface one year ago. In Belgium, Italy and the United States, similar cases came to light last year.

Another Catholic order, the Jesuits, has already offered similar compensation for abuse at its schools in Germany, but the German Catholic bishops have yet to settle indemnities for abuse at diocesan schools and other church institutions.

Robert Koehler of the support group for Ettal Abbey victims welcome the report as a “milestone” in uncovering the abuses, adding he was confident church leaders were now making the right moves.

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