Files in an archive © Julia Steinbrecht (KNA)
The Archdiocese of Cologne will allow the first insight into the abuse report of a Munich law firm, which has been kept under lock and key until now, starting Thursday. The interest in the insight into the document is large, communicated the Generalvikariat in advance.
Reading appointments offered for the controversial report by the law firm Westpfahl-Spilker-Wastl are nearly booked on most days, they said. Only on 31. March and on 1. April there would still be a few time slots available. Interested parties can read the report until 1. April to be viewed only by appointment and on site at the Maternushaus in Cologne. Each visitor is given one and a half hours to examine the document, which is around 300 pages long.
Second expert opinion commissioned
Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki stopped the publication of the report on the handling of sexual abuse cases in the Cologne archdiocese last October because it showed legal deficiencies. Woelki had instead commissioned a second expert opinion from the Cologne law firm Gercke Wollschlager, which was published last Thursday.
The archbishop had justified withholding the first report by saying that it had not withstood scrutiny by legal experts. It shows deficiencies in terms of the law of expression. Publication would unlawfully interfere with rights of affected persons. Munich-based firm rejected accusations of methodological flaws.
Second expert opinion published
The second expert opinion ordered by the archdiocese and published last Thursday by Cologne criminal lawyer Bjorn Gercke had revealed serious breaches of duty by the diocese leadership. Woelki himself, however, was exonerated. As a consequence, the archbishop temporarily released the auxiliary bishops Ansgar Puff and Dominikus Schwaderlapp from their duties.
In addition, Woelki temporarily relieved the official Gunter Assenmacher of his duties. The current Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Hebe, former head of the Department of Pastoral Care/Personnel in Cologne, who is also heavily charged, offered his resignation to the Pope.