Guests Christian Faber, Patrick Muller, Katharina Lemberg-Lichterfeld and Nancy Kemp-Arendt took part in a panel discussion on sexual abuse on RTL Radio on Saturday afternoon.
Child and adolescent sexual abuse is often the beginning of an ordeal that has the potential to destroy the lives of victims at a very young age. The recent publication of an expert report in Germany has once again shed light on the decade-long abuses in the Catholic Church. However, the Catholic Church is just one of many places in society where abuse can occur.
Another example is sport, a sector where the number of victims is twice as high as in the Catholic and Protestant Church combined, according to a German study. This is one of the many reasons why many organizations and individuals are calling for a broader discussion about sexual violence against children and adolescents.
On Saturday afternoon, our colleagues from RTL Radio moderated a round table on the subject with guests Christian Faber, who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of members of the Catholic Church in Luxembourg, Patrick Muller, the Vicar General of the Catholic Church in Luxembourg, psychiatrist Katharina Lemberg-Lichterfeld, who examines potential candidates for the position of priest or deacon for the Church, and Nancy Kemp-Arendt, deputy of the Christian-Social Popular Party (CSV) and former Olympic athlete. Due to a positive rapid test result, Christian Faber participated remotely.
Faber shared the story of how he was abused at boarding school as a child and criticized that since then ‘nothing has happened’.
Vicar General Patrick Muller said a lot has been done recently. Muller explained that whenever he talks to former victims of abuse, he notices that such an experience “never goes away.” For this reason, the vicar general stressed that the abuses are “unforgivable” and that additional efforts on the part of the state are also necessary.
For Faber, it is clear that there should be a neutral point of contact for victims. He also condemned the Church’s practice of destroying evidence, recounting how he tried to request certain documents only to be told they had been shredded. For this reason, Faber is in favor of commissioning an independent probe in Luxembourg, like the one recently carried out in Germany. Faber believes that there is “not enough pressure” at the moment in Luxembourg.
CSV MP Nancy Kemp-Arendt also wants to change that, which is why she has been campaigning against sexual abuse for years. However, Kemp-Arendt pointed out that the problem is present everywhere in society. For the CSV MP, the Church “realizes”, which she thinks is “a step in the right direction”, even if the report was not made independently. Kemp-Arendt stressed that the abuses themselves are “of course unforgivable”, adding that she would appreciate if other sectors also make similar reports.
The former Olympic athlete cited sport as an example, pointing out that sport involves very distinct power dynamics, for example, when it comes to which athletes are selected to join a training camp abroad. .
Psychiatrist Katharina Lemberg-Lichterfeld explained that because violence is often a violation of a previously established trust between two people, it also plays an important role when it comes to uncovering instances of violence.
Lemberg-Lichterfeld stressed that a child should always be taken seriously when talking about abuse, because children don’t usually make up stories like this. However, as the child often has a connection with the culprit, he is manipulated into believing that what happened must be normal, explained the psychiatrist.
As such, Lemberg-Lichterfeld continued, it’s important not to dismiss what the child is saying. If children feel they are being called liars, they will stop talking, which of course is counterproductive if the goal is to uncover abuse, Lemberg-Lichterfeld said.
The psychiatrist specified that the balance sheets on the pedophile tendencies that she draws up with her colleague are, in principle, valid for ten years. However, Lemberg-Lichterfeld acknowledged that it cannot be ruled out that such trends could occur during this period.
Video in Luxembourgish: