Will criminal trial take place at Vatican? © Cristian Gennari (CBA)
In the case of a priest twice legally convicted of abuse, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican has begun a criminal trial. The retired chaplain A. was active as a chaplain in three dioceses despite the convictions.
It was not until 2019 that Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki banned the now 87-year-old from priestly services. This was communicated by the Archdiocese of Cologne on Wednesday in response to a request from the Catholic News Agency (KNA).
The priest, who had been working in Cologne since 1960 and then in Essen-Kettwig, was sentenced to prison in 1972 for "continued fornication with children and addicts," according to the statements. Since 1973, he was assigned to various places in the diocese of Munster, until he was sentenced to probation in 1988 for sexual acts with minors. A year later, he returned to Cologne as a chaplain in an old people's home.
As a retired chaplain, he was in Bochum-Wattenscheid from 2002 to 2015. The case had caused heavy criticism at the end of last year.
Special report commissioned
Now the Archdiocese of Cologne confirmed media reports that it and the dioceses of Munster and Essen had commissioned a special report on the case. The expertise, which was completed in August 2019 and has not yet been published, had been prepared by the Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, which was also to present an independent investigation for the archdiocese of Cologne on the handling of abuse cases by diocesan officials.
Because of alleged shortcomings, the archdiocese has since stopped the publication. With this investigation, the special report should also have been commissioned to A. should be presented, so the archdiocese.
The special report had been important "in order to be able to decide on the basis of a timely evaluation under aspects of criminal law and canon law how to deal with the facts quickly and decisively," it said. It should be investigated who, and to what extent, had knowledge of the sexual assaults of A. had and whether the measures taken met the legal requirements.
According to a media report, the Hamburg archbishop Stefan Hebe is also accused of misconduct in the special report. In 2008, the former head of personnel in the archdiocese of Cologne had been presented with an alleged victim of "massive sexual assaults" by A. reported in a kindergarten in the early 1960s. Hebe had not informed the person concerned about the past of the clergyman. The archbishop denies that.