International charity Aid to the Church in Need said it found “very plausible” the claim that its founder, the late Fr Werenfried van Straaten, had sexually assaulted a former employee in the 1970s. Source: NCR Online.
The charity, which supports Christians suffering under persecution or extreme poverty, confirmed in a statement last week that the victim came forward with the allegation in 2010 and that preparations for a sainthood cause for Fr van Straaten stopped at the time.
“The leadership of the charity took the accusation very seriously. It immediately sought out the person concerned and, in a personal meeting, listened to her. Her portrayal of the incident seemed very plausible,” ACN said in the statement published after Christ und Welt, a supplement of the German newspaper Die Zeit, reported the charity had paid the woman 16,000 euros ($25,000).
ACN said the money was “a solidarity payment in order to underline its desire to recognise the suffering of the person concerned and to try to mitigate the consequences of the incident for this person”.
Fr Van Straaten died in 2003 at the age of 90 after decades devoted to helping persecuted Christians, particularly in Eastern Europe.
While ACN did not make the woman’s accusations public at the time, the charity said it did inform the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, the president of the German bishops’ conference, the victim’s bishop and the head of the Norbertine order.
The victim “expressed a clear wish for the confidential handling of the accusation,” ACN said, while also admitting the group hoped “to prevent damage to the reputation of the charity” and “harm” to its work.
Aid to the Church in Need admits its founder was accused of assault (CNS via NCR Online)