Friday, January 28, 2011

Abuse victims reject Jesuit payout offer

A body representing former pupils sexually abused by Jesuit priests in Germany rejected on Thursday an offer of 5,000 euros (6,832 dollars) in compensation per victim as woefully inadequate.

"The sum is totally insufficient, either to compensate for the damage caused or to signal a recognition of guilt," Thomas Weiner from the Eckiger Tisch (Square Table) told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily.

Instead, victims should receive on average a payout of 80,000 euros each, he said, 16 times the offer announced by Jesuit orders on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the order in Munich said the Jesuits had sent the offer in letters and emails to the around 200 victims who had come forward, in which it was noted that the sum "could never compensate for the suffering incurred."

Recipients had attended Jesuit schools across Germany, where revelations a year ago of sexual violence against students brought a scandal plaguing the Roman Catholic Church to Pope Benedict XVI's native country.

The spokesman in Munich, Thomas Busch, said the payout would not be made for another two to three months while the Jesuits sought a comprehensive offer with other Roman Catholic institutions.

The German Bishops Conference has not yet taken a decision on the matter.

Germany has faced revelations over the past year that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused in institutions throughout the country, all but a handful run by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church in Germany has said it failed to investigate properly claims of abuse and that in some cases there was a cover-up, with paedophile priests simply moved elsewhere instead of being disciplined and reported to the police.

It has also faced accusations of foot-dragging on reparations for victims, most of whom suffered their abuse several decades ago, too long ago for criminal charges to be brought.

The 83-year-old pope is due to visit Germany in September in his first state visit since becoming pontiff in 2005. He has made two private trips in 2005 and 2006.

© 2010 AFP

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