Comes the liberation blow?

Comes the liberation blow?

Cardinal Woelki studies the expert opinion © N.N. (DR)

Cardinal Woelki announces further consequences of an abuse report for his archdiocese. Woelki has used the past few days to read the report, draw conclusions and hold discussions.

Woelki had learned the results of the investigation for the first time with the press last Thursday. This was stated by the archdiocese. He plans to present the next steps in a press conference this Tuesday with Vicar General Markus Hofmann. The Archdiocese of Cologne and our site broadcast live from 10.00 a.m.

Relieved of duties and given leave of absence

The report, which the archdiocese commissioned from the law firm Gercke Wollschlager, shows how diocesan officials dealt with cases of sexualized violence by priests. The investigation records a total of 75 breaches of duty by eight officials, including archbishops, vicars general and personnel directors, in 24 of 236 files evaluated. For example, they did not follow up on suspicions or sanction punishable behavior.

Immediately after the presentation of the investigation, Woelki had Auxiliary Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp (53) and the Cologne Offizial Gunter Assenmacher (69) temporarily relieved of their duties. A day later, he also suspended auxiliary bishop Ansgar Puff (65). Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hebe (54), who used to be head of personnel and vicar general in Cologne, resigns from his office. He and Schwaderlapp have offered their resignations to the pope. Woelki himself was not proven to have committed any misconduct.

Supervision of offender conditions

The experts attest the archdiocese a disastrous file situation and the officials a large legal ignorance. The protection of the church as an institution had been the main priority. The investigation also contains suggestions for improvement: The archdiocese should, among other things, professionalize record keeping, provide leadership training and create an office to monitor offender restraints, it said.

Woelki had commissioned the expert opinion only in October of last year. It concerns the second elaboration for the archbishopric – a first appraisal of a Munich Kanzlei was not published at first as intended, because the cardinal considers it unsatisfactory. Critics therefore accused him of lacking the will to enlighten. Starting on Thursday, those affected, journalists and other interested parties will be able to gain an insight into this first elaboration.

Woelki rules out resignation

Meanwhile, the archbishop ruled out making his office available. "What would be gained by a resignation? That would be the easier way," he told Die Zeit (Monday). "By remaining in office, I take responsibility for what I started in Cologne: the relentless clarification."

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