“It has been concealed”

Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki © Julia Steinbrecht (KNA)

The abuse case of a now 87-year-old priest causes a stir. He has served as pastor in three dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Cologne, despite convictions. Opposite our site, Cologne Archbishop Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki said about this current case:

"The assignment of pastor A. in pastoral care in 1989 was a serious mistake. From today's perspective, one thing is clear: The warning voices have not been listened to, which call for close control of parish A. have demanded. It was concealed when the responsible pastoral services in the then Lovenich deanery were not sufficiently informed. And it was not punished when the course of suspension was abandoned for completely inexplicable reasons," the Archbishop of Cologne told our site on Thursday.

"These are some of the sad and painful examples of the failures in dealing with pastor A. As the bishop responsible, I have had the facts investigated and initiated criminal proceedings under canon law. The sentence has been passed, confirmation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome is still pending," Woelki continued.

"But I am not only concerned with the consequences for the perpetrator. Without the expert opinion of Prof. Dr. Gercke to anticipate, it must be clear to everyone that the repeated use of a convicted felon was absolutely irresponsible. The entire handling of pastor A is a decades-long string of serious mistakes. And for this persons must have been responsible at that time, who must be found out and named. I have heard Mr. Prof. Dr. Gercke, just within the bounds of due restraint, asked to clarify the question of responsibility, especially in this case," explains the Archbishop of Cologne.

As early as November 2019, Cardinal Woelki had already spoken out in an interview with our site commented on the case. The Archdiocese of Cologne has also provided FAQs on this case on its website.

Bishop Overbeck also comments

On Wednesday, Essen Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck had acknowledged mistakes in dealing with the priest twice convicted of abuse. "I have brought guilt upon myself," he told the current "Zeit" supplement "Christ World".

When he learned of the case shortly after taking office in Essen at the beginning of 2010, he did not ask to see his personnel file. "Otherwise I might have seen the dimension of the case," says Ruhr bishop. However, he ruled out a resignation because of this mistake.

The case of the now 87-year-old priest A. Had caused fierce criticism at the end of 2019. Despite the two convictions, he worked as a pastor in three dioceses, from 2002 as a retired chaplain in the diocese of Essen. The dioceses involved, Cologne, Munster and Essen, have commissioned investigations into the case.

The priest of the Archdiocese of Cologne had been active in Cologne since 1960 and then in Essen-Kettwig, which belongs to the Archdiocese, before he was sentenced to prison in 1972 for "continued fornication with children and addicts". He was then assigned to the diocese of Munster from 1973 until he received a suspended sentence in 1988 for sexual acts with minors.

In 1989, A. returned to Cologne as a chaplain in an old people's home. As a retired chaplain, he was then in Bochum-Wattenscheid in the diocese of Essen from 2002 to 2015. It was not until 2019 that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne banned him from priestly service. Meanwhile, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican has conducted an ecclesiastical criminal trial against the clergyman, who now lives in a nursing home. The sentence has been passed, but the confirmation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome is still pending, explained Cardinal Woelki.

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