Church policy regarding sexual abuse of children and young people

Written 20-03-2010

The recent news of cases of sexual abuse of children and minors in Catholic institutions in Germany in keeping the focus on this tragic and shameful phenomenon in our Church. The many new cases demonstrate that all incidents of abuse have obviously not been uncovered yet. As well as causing the many known and still unknown victims huge, and possibly lifelong suffering, sexual assaults also represent an abuse of trust, the breaking of God´s commandments and a weakening of the Church´s credibility.

Preparation in our diocese

The Church has taken steps to assure care of victims and to prevent further abuse, not least in the countries which have been particularly badly affected by this abuse. In our diocese, we already have a plan of action ready to use in the event that cases – past or present – come to light. A brochure has been made available with the necessary information about how one should proceed and who can be contacted immediately. The folders have been publicly available, in our churches amongst other places, for a significant period of time. Although interest has been shown in the contingency plan and in the availability of the folder, no cases of abuse have been reported to date.

In order that no one should feel helpless in the event of a future assault or with regard to the handling of things which happened possibly a long time ago, the diocese once again draws attention to the existence of the brochure and of the contingency plan. 

It is our desire to create the most secure environment possible in our Church, an environment marked by trust and natural contacts. At the same time, it is important for us that no one who has already been assaulted by a church representative is left with grief and pain. Therefore no one – no matter how difficult it is to talk about the experience and the consequences of abuse – should hold back from seeking help and reporting the abuse which has taken place.
Our preparation does not replace all the judicial measures or complete follow-up of victim´s needs for help towards recovery, but we contribute gladly to the resolution of cases and the procurement of subsequent help, e.g. a psychologist or other form of therapy. A professional committee made up of a lawyer, a social worker and a priest are ready to look after the submitted cases.

Contingency brochure

The contingency brochure is again on the way out to parishes. The folder indicates that anyone with experience of or suspicions about abuse can contact the following:

Fr. Niels Engelbrecht tel. 33 13 37 62 – 30 54 21 18, e-mail: ne@sanktansgar.dk or psychologist Katie Powell, tel. 29 63 16 31, e-mail: kp@katolsk.dk.
These two people will see that the case is launched and the relevant people and agencies involved.
The Contingency Plan can be read here (Danish)

(Translated from Danish by Sr. Maria)