The Salesians of Don Bosco recently held their provincial chapter in the Benediktbeuern monastery, i.e. a representative assembly of around 200 members of the order in Germany, who together with branches in Switzerland and Turkey form a religious province. The focus of the joint considerations was the reflection of the situation of the religious province and the alignment of their commitment to young people in Germany.
According to their own statements, the 50 capitulars dealt with the status of processing sexual abuse and mistreatment, the economic challenges and the structures and framework conditions necessary for their work as well as with current questions of religious life today. The situation of the Catholic Church in Germany and the status of the synodal path were also on the agenda.
“Very moved and with a great deal of dismay, the delegates also reflected on the status of the processing of sexual abuse and mistreatment in the Salesian institutions,” says the order. In addition to establishing measures to raise awareness through prevention, the religious community has been trying to come to terms with the dark side of its history since 2010. In 2021, the Salesians of Don Bosco joined the further developed procedure of the “Independent Commission for Recognition Services” (“UKA procedure”) of the German Bishops’ Conference.
According to their message, the capitulars confirmed all measures that recognize the suffering of those affected and enable them to come to terms with it. In order to continue this process consistently, they unanimously supported the proposal for a “historical reconstruction”. This approach is intended to broaden the view of the systemic, social and cultural contexts in which failure, a lack of awareness of the problem or culpable turning a blind eye and the evasion of punishment – especially in the 1950s, 60s and 70s – took place.
“The intention is to have the processing accompanied by competent, external bodies,” says the press release. “In order to take those affected by abuse seriously, to learn from past and present mistakes, to understand the circumstances that led to such action and to further develop a system that is characterized by prevention and mindfulness, such a reappraisal is obligatory for us.” , explained Provincial Father Reinhard Gesing.
It was clearly stated that the Capitulars supported the process of renewal in the Catholic Church in Germany initiated by the Synodal Path. “We follow the deliberations closely and will reflect and apply the contents to our mission and our religious life,” Gesing stated on behalf of all capitulars.
Climate protection was also on the agenda: “We all have to educate ourselves ecologically and live sustainably,” said the leader of the community, Father Reinhard Gesing, at the provincial chapter in Benediktbeuern, as the order announced at the weekend. At the end of the meeting, the capitulars spoke out in favor of the introduction of guidelines that provide for special responsibility for sustainability, environmental and climate protection and the preservation of the livelihoods of future generations. Under the title “Youth needs sustainable development”, the Salesians of Don Bosco are concretizing their self-commitment, which they adopted in 2019, to engage in supporting young people for a more just world and the preservation of creation. A sub-goal is the decision to use 100 percent renewable energies in the German province before 2032.
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