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Showing posts from March, 2010

German Catholics launch helpline for abuse victims

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It is seldom that I can just get on my bike and go to a press conference, but this one in Trier yesterday was a welcome change!

Trier, Germany (ENI). The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has launched an official telephone hotline for victims of sexual abuse in its institutions.
At a press conference in Trier, Bishop Stephan Ackermann of the German Bishops' Conference said on 30 March the helpline will be staffed by psychologists and social workers from the diocese of Trier.

Ackermann was appointed in February by the German bishops to handle mounting allegations of abuse in Germany's Catholic Church.

The crisis began when a school in Berlin run by the Jesuit order announced in January that there had been systematic abuse of pupils by three priests in the 1970s and 1980s. After the school had appointed a lawyer, it appealed for victims of abuse to come forward.

Soon it emerged that the priests involved also worked at other church-run schools and the problem grew. The scandal ha…

Books, people, publishers and blisters

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The annual Leipzig Book Fair is truly a people's book festival and in stark contrast to the Frankfurt Book Fair which is all about deals.
Ever since Johannes Gutenberg invented his book printing machine (I visited the museum two years ago in Mainz), Germany has been the centre of the publishing trade.


From 1632 to 1945 Leipzig was the biggest book fair in Germany and in Europe. However after the divide of Europe and Germany into East and West after the Second World War in 1945, the festival continued in East Germany. It was however was overtaken in importance by Frankfurt.


This get-together of the publishing and media sectors with writers, readers and publishers has an invigorating air about it. In the hustle bustle of some spring sunshine the famous mix with booksellers, readers, plebs and wannabe authors like myself.
Nobel Prize Laureates Günter Grass and Hertha Müller were walking around being interviewed and talking to people, as was South African author Deon Meyer.
One hall is mai…

Latter-day Latin Lamentations

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There I stood this week at the grave of Erasmus of Rotterdam in the Basel Münster at a loss to read the inscription in the lingua franca of Europe. Albeit the lingua franca of an earlier Europe, when a common written language prevailed - Latin. That was the world of this Dutch Renaissance humanist. Coming from Africa I never saw the advantages of Latin as a subject. Moving from Jozi barely a century old to Germany’s oldest Roman town, a mere 2,000 years old , I was soon confronted by Latin. In our area some secondary schools offer the option of pupils starting with Latin as their first foreign language when they, aged barely ten, start Gymnasium, the most academic of the three-tier secondary schools. Because numbers are low a lot of marketing goes into attracting pupils.My tri-lingual daughter was seen as a natural candidate. „Latin is a dead language,“ I proclaimed loud enough for all to hear. Whereas the German intelligensia, in other words the professors, the architects, the doctors …