The way the Catholic Church deals with perpetrators after cases of abuse triggers outrage – the leadership is only threatened with punishment under certain conditions. Bavaria’s justice minister wants to change that.

If leaders in churches, schools and associations allow further acts after cases of child abuse because they remain inactive, the chairman of the conference of justice ministers wants them to face penalties in the future.

“For these cases, we propose a prison sentence of up to three years,” said Bavaria’s Minister of Justice Georg Eisenreich on Wednesday before the spring conference with his colleagues from the federal and state governments in Schwangau in the Allgäu. “This is about protecting our children.”

Bavaria’s proposal refers to “cases of serious failure” by supervisors, emphasized the CSU politician. Criminal consequences should therefore threaten if managers act in a negligent manner or remain inactive – and further abuse “would have been prevented or at least made more difficult through dutiful behavior”. As a negative example, the Bavarian Ministry of Justice named clergymen who were allowed to continue to work in pastoral care in the Catholic Church even after cases of abuse became known.

So far, supervisors could only be prosecuted if they intentionally – i.e. intentionally – promote child abuse, said Eisenreich. But that is difficult to prove. “In my view, the federal legislature must close this gap in protection.”

In addition to the motion on the subject of child abuse, the conference on Wednesday and Thursday will deal with, among other things, how to deal with hate speech in social networks, the prosecution of human trafficking and the fight against anti-Semitism. The justice ministers want to present their decisions at a press conference on Thursday (1.30 p.m.).