The Munich law firm Westphal Spilker Wastl, which has come under criticism, publishes an abuse report for the Aachen diocese on Thursday. In the archdiocese of Cologne, a publication of the chancery had recently been canceled.
Bishop Helmut Dieser and Generalvikar Andreas Frick would then learn at the same time with the media for the first time of the results, communicated the firm on Monday in Munich. The investigation of personnel files, among other things, is about possible misconduct by diocesan officials in dealing with abuse cases from 1965 to 2019. The Archdiocese of Cologne had surprisingly canceled the publication of a similar expertise by WSW at the end of October because of alleged shortcomings.
The concern of the Aachen diocese is an independent investigation, emphasized Bishop This. "We do not examine ourselves."He invited to follow the livestream with the publication. He is primarily concerned with relevant findings on structures and responsibilities "and with all related indications that help us to vigorously put a stop to sexualized violence in our diocese," emphasized This. "Legal questions we leave to the lawyers."
Criticism from former diocese leadership
Previously, former bishop Heinrich Mussinghoff (80) and former vicar general Manfred von Holtum (76) had criticized the report. From WSW they expected unjustified accusations and no fair trial, they told the "Aachener Nachrichten" (Monday). He could understand the objections of several criminal lawyers to the investigation prepared for Cologne, said von Holtum. As long as the question of professionalism has not been clarified, the expert opinion for Aachen may not be published, also for reasons of personal protection. The sent protocols of the interviews conducted with Mussinghoff and von Holtum were "inadequate and very flawed," the two clergymen stated.
Short notice cancellation of the publication in the archdiocese of Cologne
The for the 12. March of this year planned presentation of the expert opinion for Cologne had the archdiocese at short notice canceled. Fears were expressed of legal disputes with former or active decision-makers whose names are to be mentioned in the study. In the meantime, it has become known that the former head of personnel in Cologne and current Archbishop of Hamburg Stefan Hebe had raised legal concerns. Therefore, the archdiocese called in two law firms specializing in press law to subject the WSW opinion of an "expression-legal" examination.
At the end of October, the archdiocese announced that it would not publish the WSW report. Other experts had come to the conclusion that the expertise did not meet the minimum requirements "in the entire methodology, in the structure and the fundamental approach". Now the Cologne criminal lawyer Bjorn Gercke is to present a new investigation by March 2021.
Coming to terms with the past
Mussinghoff and von Holtum ared that the diocese management at that time had done what was necessary and possible for those affected. But if it turns out "that we, as those responsible at the time, did not sufficiently exercise our responsibility according to today's knowledge, we must face up to it," von Holtum said.
The former bishop admitted to having felt overwhelmed, especially with victim interviews. "I would not have trusted myself to speak to them appropriately. I would not advise this to any bishop."In 2011, a commission of experts had been set up with, among others, psycho- and trauma therapists.