German bishops announce higher payments to Catholic abuse victims

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Sept. 24 (UPI) — A conference of German Catholic bishops introduced a new model on Thursday to pay survivors of abuse within the church, which could pay each more than $50,000.

The German Bishops Conference announced the creation of an independent committee to investigate complaints of sexual abuse by priests and other clergy. The panel would also determine compensation.

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Conference Chair Georg Batzing detailed the new model Thursday at a meeting in Fulda.

Under the change, survivors are eligible for a onetime payment of up to $58,000. Victims will also be able to request that the church pay for therapy.

The independent committee will be comprised of medical and mental health professionals and attorneys. The proposed model would take effect next year.

While the increase in compensation is a tenfold increase over what survivors in Germany have previously been entitled to ($5,800), it’s far less than advocates were hoping for.

Batzing called the improvement a “genuine step forward” in addressing past abuse, but acknowledged that some will find the change “unsatisfactory.”

One German victims group had called for an increased payout to $466,000 per victim, arguing the amount would be appropriate for a lifetime of trauma some survivors have experienced.

A 2018 study paid for by the German Bishops Conference found that more than 1,600 clergymen had committed some form of abuse against thousands of minors, mostly boys, between 1946 and 2014. Victims groups believe the actual numbers are higher.

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