1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany: Study starts on sexual abuse in Protestant Church

October 28, 2021

The aim of the multi-million euro, three-year sweeping probe is to analyze the structural and systemic conditions that have facilitated abuse with the Protestant Church in Germany.

A cross atop a Lutheran church in Osnabrück
Image: Friso Gentsch/dpa/picture alliance

A group of independent researchers on Thursday presented details of a new investigation into sexual abuse in the church and its related charities. 

The aim of the study is to analyze "structures and systemic conditions within the EKD, that facilitate sexual violence and make it difficult to properly deal with the past."

IPP researcher Detlev Zander stressed that their job was to "illuminate...the reasons these things happen," but that the "work of restructuring" had to be done by the churhces alone.

What will the study involve?

Research firm IPP is leading part of the study, which began in December 2020 and is expected to run to 2023. The group was involved in the investigation into abuse in children's homes and the Catholic convent Ettal.

IPP wrote on their website that they were taking a victim-centered approach, conducting dozens of interviews with survivors and experts in order to pinpoint how abuse starts and how to better prevent it.

The Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), Germany's umbrella organization for Protestant churches, has provided €3.6 million ($4.2 million) in funding for the study.

What is the stance of the Protestant Church? 

The global Catholic Church has been dealing with abuse allegations for decades, Protestant churches have been dragging their feet in many countries, including Germany.

The EKD did not announce an intention to investigate the matter until 2018. A year later, they reported over 700 complaints of sexual abuse at the hands of either clerics or other church employees.

At the time, the EKD announced its intention to handle the situation differently than Catholics, where victims are often rewarded a monetary settlement. An EKD spokeswoman said they did not want to simply pay off victims without implementing structural changes.

Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.