Legal Action Taken by Diocese of Trier

Legal Action Taken by Diocese of Trier

The diocese of Trier has expressed its intention to seek legal redress in the form of compensation for pain and suffering, on behalf of victims who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests. This decision stands in contrast to a more common approach of reaching out-of-court settlements with victims. The diocese has already announced its intention to initiate at least three lawsuits.

In a press release, the diocese stated: “The diocese will fundamentally respond to these lawsuits. Each case will have to be viewed individually and examined legally.” The civil lawsuits were announced on Wednesday by the “Association of Abuse Victims and Those Affected in the Diocese of Trier” (MissBiT).

In the meantime, the Catholic Church continues to depend on the out-of-court “Procedure for the Recognition of Suffering” through the “Independent Commission for the Recognition of Suffering” (UKA). The financial benefits awarded to abuse victims were determined based on the official compensation table – “in the upper range for comparable cases,” as the diocese adds for clarification.

The decision-makers in Trier are of the opinion that individual out-of-court settlements are not the best course of action “because they do not ensure comparability and can potentially lead to injustice.” This decision was arrived at after intense discussions with the advisory staff of Bishop Stephan Ackermann (60) and was a unanimous one.

Aside from the announced lawsuits, the Diocese of Trier is also committed to improving access to files and ensuring that affected individuals can access these files. The current approach has been severely criticized by “MissBiT”. The Vicariate General, responsible for these matters, has taken this criticism seriously and is working to address these concerns.

The diocese, which serves 1.2 million Catholics in Rhineland-Palatinate and in Saarland, is responsible for these matters, but it operates within certain boundaries: When inspecting files, the “relevant regulations and the rights of those affected, the accused/perpetrators and possible third parties” must also be taken into account. “That’s why not all parts of a file can always be viewed.”