Official Prelate Dr. Gunter Assenmacher © Beatrice Tomasetti (DR)
Five days after the presentation of the abuse report in the archdiocese of Cologne, there are also personnel consequences in the diocese of Limburg: Gunter Assenmacher is leaving the diocese on 31 December. March from the office of Offizial in the Limburg diocese
Likewise, he is giving up the post of head of the ecclesiastical court, as Limburg Bishop Georg Batzing announced on Tuesday. The decision was made by mutual agreement, it said. In the hierarchy, the Offizial, as the highest judge of a diocese, immediately follows the bishop and, as the bishop's "judicial vicar," is on the same level as the head of administration (vicar general).
On leave as officiator in Cologne
The diocese did not give a reason for Assenmacher's departure in the press release. Assenmacher had been official of the diocese of Limburg since October 2010 and at the same time official in the archdiocese of Cologne since 1995. After the presentation of the Cologne abuse report, Assenmacher had been temporarily relieved of his duties as official of the archdiocese of Cologne by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki on Thursday. Assenmacher would have been in office in Limburg until November, as he was only confirmed in this position for a further three years at the end of 2018.
Limburg diocese spokesman Stephan Schnelle, when asked by the Catholic News Agency (KNA), said Assenmacher had submitted his resignation and Bishop Batzing had accepted it. There had also been discussions with regard to the findings of the Cologne abuse report.
The expert opinion of the law firm Gercke Wollschlager presented on Thursday shows how diocesan officials in the Archdiocese of Cologne dealt with cases of sexualized violence by priests. The investigation records a total of 75 breaches of duty by eight officials, including Assenmacher, in 24 of 236 files evaluated.
Timely search for new official
On Tuesday, the Limburg diocese further announced that Assenmacher would hand over his official duties to the vice-official, Jesuit Father Georg Schmidt, at the end of the month for the time being. At the same time, Batzing announced that a new official would be appointed in the near future.
The Limburg diocese had said on Thursday that Bishop Georg Batzing – who is also chairman of the German Bishops' Conference – would first "read and evaluate the Cologne report before deciding what it means for the Limburg diocese". Assenmacher also has "different duties" as an official in Limburg than in Cologne. He said he was "exclusively responsible for marriage law" in the Limburg diocese.
On Tuesday, Bishop Batzing paid tribute to Assenmacher: "Over the past four years, he has been a reliable and competent contact for me on all ies relating to church marriage law."To the staff he had been "a good, humorous and reliable superior". Batzing added: "I thank him sincerely for his service in Limburg."