German Catholic Church to pay abuse victims up to €50,000

German bishops agreed Thursday that victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are entitled to payouts of up to €50,000 each, a figure campaigners insisted was far too low.

German Catholic Church to pay abuse victims up to €50,000
German Bishops' Conference president Georg Bätzing. Photo: DPA

Speaking after the autumn assembly of the German Bishops' Conference, president Georg Bätzing said an independent committee would be set up to examine complaints and decide on payouts from January 1st, 2021. Victims' therapy costs will also be covered.

Some survivors would find the one-off sum of up to €50,000 “unsatisfactory”, Bishop Bätzing admitted. “But I see it as a genuine step forwards,” he told a press conference in the central city of Fulda.

The new system is based on proposals already approved by bishops at a gathering in March.

The Eckiger Tisch victims' group was quick to criticise the announcement,  calling for sums as high as €400,000 per survivor to take into account a lifetime of trauma and the “decades-long, systematic cover-up of crimes  against children and adolescents by the Church”.

The campaign group said it would launch a petition for German lawmakers to discuss the historic abuse scandal in parliament and acknowledge the need for “appropriate compensation”.

Germany rocked by Church abuse

Like other countries around the world, Germany has in recent years been rocked by revelations of sexual abuse by priests and other clergy.

A study commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference and released in 2018 showed that 1,670 clergymen had committed some form of sexual attack against 3,677 minors, mostly boys, between 1946 and 2014.

The real number of victims is estimated to be even higher.

READ ALSO: 'We will continue to fight': German church abuse victims say payouts not enough

The German Catholic Church has however rejected demands for six-figure payouts for survivors as too costly.

It has also refused to call the payouts compensation, referring to them instead as “payments in recognition of their suffering”.

Until now, the Church has paid survivors an average sum of up to €5,000 each.

Bätzing said the new sum of up to €50,000 was at “the higher end” of comparable payouts in German courts for abuse cases.

He also defended the Church's decision to stick with the system of  “recognition” payments.

German courts have “high standards” for awarding compensation, he said, with a burden of proof that could be hard to meet in cases where perpetrators may have died already, or where records no longer exist that could back up the allegations.

The seven-member independent committee that will be set up – consisting of experts in health, psychology, law and education – will set “a low threshold” for accepting cases, he said.

READ ALSO: German Catholic church apologises as scale of child abuse laid bare

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Al-Azhar university calls for Sweden boycott over Koran burning

The Sunni Muslim world's most prestigious educational institution, Al-Azhar in Egypt, has called for the boycott of Swedish and Dutch products after far-right activists destroyed Korans in those countries.

Al-Azhar university calls for Sweden boycott over Koran burning

Al-Azhar, in a statement issued on Wednesday, called on “Muslims to boycott Dutch and Swedish products”.

It also urged “an appropriate response from the governments of these two countries” which it charged were “protecting despicable and barbaric crimes in the name of ‘freedom of expression'”.

Swedish-Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan on Saturday set fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm, raising tensions as Sweden courts Ankara over its bid to join Nato.


The following day, Edwin Wagensveld, who heads the Dutch chapter of the German anti-Islam group Pegida, tore pages out of the Koran during a one-man protest outside parliament.

Images on social media also showed him walking on the torn pages of the holy book.

The desecration of the Koran sparked strong protests from Ankara and furious demonstrations in several capitals of the Muslim world including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry “strongly condemned” the Koran burning, expressing “deep concern at the recurrence of such events and the recent Islamophobic escalation in a certain number of European countries”.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson condemned Paludan’s actions as “deeply disrespectful”, while the United States called it “repugnant”.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday said the burning was the work of “a provocateur” who “may have deliberately sought to put distance between two close partners of ours – Turkey and Sweden”.

On Tuesday, Turkey postponed Nato accession talks with Sweden and Finland, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Stockholm for allowing weekend protests that included the burning of the Koran.