Batzing: The resignation of Deputy General Speyer was a great shock

The president of the German Episcopal Conference, Bishop Georg Patsing, described the resignation of Speyer’s Deputy General Andreas Sturm as a great shock. In an interview with Deutschland Funk Week, which will air on Sunday, Batzing said the former diocese administration chief worked “actively” on changes in the church. The word sturm has weight, if someone in this position and with such strength said I don’t trust things could go well, it annoys a lot of people. I can feel that right now. It’s a problem everywhere.

The Bishop of Limburg said he deeply regretted that opponents of the change were giving “water to the factory”: “I receive emails saying: ‘He did it right. The church cannot be changed. It should not be changed. And please go too. Then we’ll have one problem and you too. This is bitter for me,” Patzing stressed.

When asked if there was a limit to the pain for him as well, saying that if nothing changed, then he no longer wanted to become a bishop, Batzing said, “Yes, there will be if I have the impression that nothing changes. But I have the impression that A lot is changing right now.”

Storm, 47, quit in mid-May. He wrote in a personal statement that he wanted to work as a priest in the ancient Catholic Church in the future. “I’ve lost hope and confidence over the years that the Roman Catholic Church can truly transform.” His successor as Attorney General is Marcus Magen (57).

He described the disclosure of the real name of a sexual assault victim known under a pseudonym by Bishop Stefan Ackermann-Paatsing as a “fatal mistake”. “This is spot on,” said the chief sponsor in Trier, according to the DBK chief. He noted that Ackermann would relinquish the position of Offense Commissioner for the German Bishops’ Conference in Fulda to attend the autumnal general assembly in September. Needs a “new lineup”. He, Batzing, personally spoke to Ackermann “at length” about it; “And also to be able to know how to behave and how to evaluate it.”

The Bishop of Limburg said that such a “fatal mistake” should not have happened. Moreover: “Can we say that there are no more mistakes? Even with such consequences? And those affected are deeply traumatized and in pain again? I can’t promise you that.”

In mid-May, Ackermann announced that he would resign his position as abuse commissioner at the Bishops’ Conference, which he had taken over in 2010. At the same time, the bishops announced that they would reorganize the treatment of sexual violence in church contexts.

Bätzing appreciates Ackermann’s work as an abuse officer

Ackermann explained at the time that a broader liability structure was needed as soon as possible so that the Church in Germany could do more justice in the complexity of the abuse issue. Without Ackermann’s work, Bätzing said, the Episcopal Conference’s Intervention and Prevention regulations and other documents would be out of the question, particularly the MHG study on sexual abuse of minors published in 2018.

Ackermann was responsible for dealing with abuse in the church as a commissioner. Together with the Federal Government Commissioner at the time, Johannes Wilhelm Roerig, he set standards for the Conference of Bishops to be adopted in 2020 for a structural reassessment in all German dioceses.

Recently, Ackermann has come under heavy criticism for revealing the real name of the infected person. The woman from the Diocese of Trier, herself an employee of the diocese, by the name of “Karen Weissenfels” reported several times of “spiritual abuse” and sexual assaults by a priest from the late 1980s to the early 2000s.

Ackermann has given her real name to about 40 employees in the diocese. Then he signed a cease and desist letter and apologized to the woman. Initiatives for Victims The Advisory Council for Victims of the Bishops’ Conference criticized Ackermann’s behavior and suggested he resign.

Predicting the Catholic day

From Bätzing’s view, there is also ambiguity surrounding the offer of resignation by the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Wolkie. “I have to tell you frankly, I still don’t get it to this day,” the DBK Chairman said. “The Archbishop of Cologne himself reported it, and offered to resign. I’m not sure if that was what was received in Rome.” Woolki had offered Pope Francis his resignation due to disagreements over the handling of abuse in his diocese. A decision on this is pending.

The Bishop of Limburg said he did not know “how this was communicated,” adding, “The president of the German Bishops’ Conference plays absolutely no role for Rome in this case. If he does not interfere in any way, he will not get any information; nothing.”

In addition, Bätzing stressed the importance of the upcoming Catholic day in Stuttgart for the cohesion of the Church. “I am really looking forward to the Catholic day – I must say – because it is so important, especially after Corona times, that we look each other in the eyes again, to discuss, celebrate, pray, and have church services,” said the Bishop of Limburg. The 102nd German Catholic Day will be held from 25-29 May 2022 in the state capital of Baden-Württemberg under the theme “Sharing Life”.

“I expect this to strengthen. And I think that is the case for a lot of people,” Batzing added, “but we also have to discuss the unresolved issues, within the Church, and that is the strength of the Catholic day, engaging in relevant social issues. We have huge issues that need as well. To the voice of the Catholic Church. (rom/kna/epd)

May 21, 3pm: Bonus points related to content added.

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