Cologne Archbishop Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki and his Vicar General Markus Hofmann have announced the first consequences they are drawing for the archdiocese from the Gercke report. Among them are eight concrete working points.
Last Thursday, the independent investigation into the handling of sexual violence in the Archdiocese of Cologne had been published. This Tuesday, the press conference on the first concrete steps and measures took place.
Cardinal Woelki began by reaffirming that he had kept an initial promise with the unredacted and complete publication of the report on dealing with sexual violence. However, this is only "one mosaic stone" in a much larger process. "I will try to do everything I can to make the Church a better place."
External control is to be anchored in concrete governance and compliance structures. "In concrete terms, this means, for example, a mutual control of the individual institutions, but also by independents from the outside," said Cardinal Woelki. "It must not and will no longer be possible that files can be manipulated or disappear."This also includes the establishment of an independent commission for coming to terms with the past, which will continue to advance the ie.
Files must no longer be destroyed
"I gave the instruction a long time ago that no more files are to be destroyed."Thus it offends against valid church right, so the cardinal. Therefore, fundamental changes are necessary in some areas.
A reform of church law is necessary, abolishing the contradictions between DBK guidelines and church law, as well as a change in the principle of church law that cases of abuse are in part seen in church law merely as violations of the promise of celibacy.
In addition, he announced reforms with regard to further training of management personnel, especially in dealing with sexualized violence. A whistleblower system proposed in the report, which allows anyone to give anonymous tips, is also to be implemented.
For all future reforms, the principle must always apply: "The perspective of those affected must be the guiding principle for action," said the Archbishop of Cologne, who is available for personal discussions with those affected and asked them to contact him.
First concrete steps
On the first concrete steps, the Vicar General of Cologne Dr. Markus Hofmann – he named eight specific areas of work:
The establishment of an independent investigation commission, to which Cardinal Woelki had already invited on 15. In March, the church signed an agreement with the Independent Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse Johannes Wilhelm Rorig.
The provision of funds for the increased recognition services for affected persons.
A regular control of accused clerics and laymen.
The strengthening of the intervention in terms of personnel and organization.
The evaluation and further development of prevention.
The future work of the affected persons' advisory board in accordance with the DBK guidelines.
Improved record keeping through digitization, traceability and tamper-proofing.
The changes in priestly formation through a psychological assessment, a preparatory year with social missions and greater involvement of women in formation.
He said the expert report uncovered the interplay of systemic and personal responsibilities when it came to the reasons for a decades-long cover-up. "It's our job to make sure we don't slack off in dealing with this ie," said Vicar General Hofmann. "With the guiding principle 'Better a truth that hurts than a lie that comforts,' we want to do our best to provide solid reappraisal."
In response to questions about his resignation, Cardinal Woelki emphasized what amption of responsibility means to him: "Simply taking moral responsibility and leaving – to protect the reputation of the episcopate and the Church – that is too easy for me, and in my eyes it is wrong. I will accept and fulfill moral responsibility. I will do everything here and now and in the future to ensure that no more such mistakes happen."