Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Catholic Church's Klasnic pick causes a stir

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn’s announcement that Waltraud Klasnic will head a commission dealing with victims of Catholic Church abuse and violence has been met with harsh criticism.

Schönborn said in a TV interview on Sunday that the former Styrian People’s Party (ÖVP) governor will head a special commission checking on all claims and reports of sexual abuse and violence by Catholic Church clergy.

Parish priest Rudolf Schermann, who published Catholic magazine Kirche In, said yesterday (Mon): "I would have preferred an objective atheist."

Schermann said no one could expect independent work from Klasnic since she had "strong links" to the Catholic Church.

Hans Peter Hurka, head of church-critical group "Wir sind Kirche" (We are the Church) said commission’s success will depend on who joined it.

Social Democratic (SPÖ) juridical issues spokesman Hannes Jarolim branded Klasnic’s nomination "unacceptable".

"She is not objective in this matter and no lawyer," Jarolim said yesterday.

Asked who he would prefer to head the commission, he mentioned Karl Korinek, the former head of the Federal Constitutional Court.

Herbert Kohlmaier of the Catholic lay initiative "Laieninitiative" meanwhile praised Klanic, who was Styrian governor between 1996 and 2005, as "someone who acts correctly and who has courage".

Various hotlines set up by independent platforms to give victims of violence and sexual abuse by Catholic Church clergy a chance to talk about what they experienced received hundreds of calls over the past few weeks.

A recent survey revealed that 69 per cent of Austrians thought the Catholic Church was lacking in credibility.

Analysts have said the recent developments could serve up a new record number of people leaving the Catholic Church in Austria this year.

More than 53,000 people turned their backs on the Church in 2009.
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