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Abuse rules

April 26, 2010

Roman Catholic bishops have met to discuss how they can better combat child abuse within church institutions. Members of the bishops’ conference decided that more emphasis should be placed on victims.

An archbishop's robes with a cross
Bishops want more precise rules on dealing with abuseImage: AP

Catholic bishops met in the German city of Wuerzburg on Monday to discuss draft guidelines on dealing with allegations of sexual abuse more effectively.

"We have reworked the guidelines and made them clearer and more precise," said the conference representative on abuse, Bishop Stephan Ackermann, referring to recently drafted rules.

The Trier bishop said that he was optimistic the next meeting of the bishops' conference could ratify the guidelines in June.

Ackerman worked together with an expert group to draw up the new measures to protect children, which were received by bishops late last week. He added that the church would not seek to protect priests who broke criminal laws.

"It must be clear beyond doubt that we do not claim any legal status separate from civil law," said Ackermann.

Victims' point of view

The revised guidelines are intended to address the issue more from the perspective of the victims. There is also a greater emphasis on prevention of abuse.

Ackerman said that the selection and qualification of commissioners who would be responsible for the issue of child abuse had also been addressed.

The redrafting of guidelines from 2002 follow a series of abuse scandals that have rocked Germany since January.

On Friday, the German government convened its first round table conference on child abuse.

Editor: Rob Turner

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