Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Klasnic to head church abuse victims commission

A commission to investigate claims of sexual abuse within the Catholic church has named former Styrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Governor Waltraud Klasnic as its head.

Viennese archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn told national broadcaster ORF yesterday he will meet Klasnic to discuss details next week.

Schönborn stressed that the commission will act totally independently to clarify as many reported sex and violence cases at Catholic institutions as possible.

Klasnic, who was governor of the province of Styria between 1996 and 2005, said she planned to start working "as soon as possible – ideally before the end of April".

"This assignment is not an easy task, but an honorary duty for me," she said.

Various hotlines set up by independent platforms to give victims of violence and sexual abuse by clergy of the Catholic Church in Austria a chance to talk about their ordeals have been swamped by calls over the past few weeks.

A recent Integral Institut poll found 69 per cent of Austrians said the church was lacking in credibility, while another survey revealed that around one million Austrians were seriously considering leaving the Church.

More than 53,000 people left the Catholic Church in Austria in 2009, the highest in the country’s history.

Analysts have said the recent developments could serve up a new record number this year.
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