Bottrop/Munich (dpa/lby) - Two victims of abuse by priest H., who had relapsed in Bavaria, want to unveil a memorial stone in front of a church in Bottrop, North Rhine-Westphalia. "Decades of abuse by the priest began in this church," said the 56-year-old initiator Markus Elstner from Bottrop to the German Press Agency. The stone is intended to commemorate everyone whose lives have been destroyed by abuse in the church. A church representative from the diocese of Essen also wants to take part in the unveiling. The "WAZ" had initially reported on the unveiling planned for this Thursday.
The H. case was central in the report on sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, which made the headlines in January. After he had already abused children in the diocese of Essen, H. was transferred from the Ruhr area to Bavaria, where he became the perpetrator again several times. He was even further employed in ministry after being finally convicted of sexual abuse.
The case is particularly explosive because the transfer of the priest from North Rhine-Westphalia to the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising coincided with the time when the future Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was archbishop there. The Pope Emeritus later called it a misunderstanding that he initially told the experts that he was untrue about his participation in a meeting that dealt with the transfer of the clergyman from the diocese of Essen to Bavaria.
Elstner, the initiator of the memorial stone, which is to be unveiled in front of the St. Cyriakus church in Bottrop, was abused by the chaplain in Bottrop as a boy in the 1970s, as the diocese of Essen admits. He has now received recognition payments from the diocese and is a member of an advisory board for those affected to process the events. The chaplain was later transferred to Essen, where he also attracted attention through abuse, as reported by a diocese spokesman. Another victim from the Essen period is a co-initiator of the memorial stone campaign.
A total of at least 28 people - mostly children and young people - are affected by the abuse cases, said the diocese spokesman. The initiators want to let the memorial stone wander and set it up for a few weeks at all the pastor's places of activity, as Elstner announced.