June 7, 2023

Dean stefan gessner: “every single case is deeply shocking.”

dean stefan gessner:

Important for the people in the catholic deanery habberge is how their church deals with the abuse scandal and what consequences develop. We asked dean stefan gessner about it.

The allegations of abuse have severely shaken the catholic church, especially the trust of christians in the institution. How do you perceive the mood in the deanery??

Stefan gessner: the problem of abuse is of concern to pastors, who have become even more sensitive to the problem through prevention training, as well as to committed parishioners, for whom numerous training courses have also been and are being offered. The many prevention trainings and the demanded extended police certificates make clear that the catholic church takes the problem seriously and tackles it. Church and society must keep a watchful eye on this problem. Current allegations of abuse as well as the processing of the abuse are discussed naturally. Is there an increase in resignations in the deanery or a turning away from the church in connection with this church scandal?? Since reasons are rarely given for resignations, I cannot confirm an increase due to this, but I also cannot deny the possibility.

What has changed since the allegations became public – also in terms of victim protection??

On the one hand, the problem is discussed openly. On the other hand, preventive measures have been introduced and. Strengthened. The awareness and alertness – in church and society – should be trained. Do you think that the investigation so far provides sufficient answers to the grievances that are comprehensible to the people??

We are in the middle of the process. This must be done in an accessible manner, but will not and must not be settled by a few conferences. It seems important to me that it becomes clear that there must be no cover-up and that no one is above the law. There is a need for clarity in the procedure. Many people accuse the church of double standards: on the one hand, preaching love for mankind and doing good, and on the other hand, the misdemeanors, the cover-ups and the practice of simply transferring those who are obviously guilty to other parishes. What is your position on this?

There must be no concealment in the case of criminally relevant behavior. How do you try to restore the credibility of the church on the ground?? How do you yourself deal with people affected by abuse??

The many good pastoral workers must be clearly distinguished from those who have committed crimes. Credibility can only be regained through transparency and clarity. This includes preventive measures, which are obligatory. It remains to be seen how strictly this approach will be followed.

If someone approaches a pastoral counselor after an assault, there are clear guidelines on how to proceed, assuming the person concerned agrees. Every effort must be made to help the person concerned. Did you personally think it was possible that there would be such a large number of misdevelopments in your church??

Every single case is deeply shocking. At the same time, however, I hope that the changed training of pastors and the sensitization of pastoral staff will prevent this in the future. Is celibacy the cause; must the church rethink its sexual morality? The celibacy is not the problem for me, because, conversely, outside the celibacy such violations could not take place. Abuse is a crime – and unfortunately it exists in many areas of society. How do you think people will talk about this church scandal centuries from now?? Will it be possible to classify it as the time of the witch burnings today and say that we have coped well with this aberration??

I hope so – with all my heart!



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