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Publication Child Sexual Abuse in the Churches. Historical approaches in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Trajecta, 2016, 1

This special issue of Trajecta provides an interim statement of historical research into the sexual abuse of minors within the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. This issue shows with crystal clarity that the state of historical research into abuse in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany in 2016 can in no way be compared if the goal is representativeness of the subject as a whole. For this reason, the contributions to this issue focus primarily on two questions: firstly, the role of the media in what came internationally to be seen as a ‘sexual abuse crisis’, and secondly the response of Church and State to this crisis. The focus is historical, so primarily directed towards time-limited cases, and not for example towards future changes of policy regarding compensation or prevention. It is clear that children are particularly, but certainly not solely, vulnerable in educational and residential settings. For this reason, one of the questions addressed here is whether Catholic educational principles played any role in the events underlying the crisis. An analysis of the historical interaction of media and Church in Germany sheds light on older mechanisms of “scandalization” that have to be given weight in analysing the media’s approach to the abuse crisis. For the present, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are in the ‘rear-guard’ of the surge of attention to the topic of child sexual abuse, with the ‘vanguard’ being the United States and Ireland.

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