Investigation is not a conclusion

Cologne Archbishop Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki sees the abuse report he commissioned as a turning point. "The investigation, it is not a conclusion," he stressed this Sunday.

"It marks something like a new beginning," he told this site on Sunday.EN. He wants to contribute to the fact that the Christians in the archdiocese treat each other with respect. "That we remain in the conversation, even if we are of a different opinion. That we wrestle together for the right way, because things can no longer remain as they were."

Expert opinion reveals breaches of duty

The investigation had been presented on Thursday. It should also show how diocesan officials handled cases of sexualized violence by priests. The experts around the criminal lawyer Bjorn Gercke found 75 breaches of duty in 24 of the total 236 files evaluated.

Officials, for example, did not follow up on suspicions or sanction criminal behavior. In not a single case was it about obstruction of justice in the criminal sense.

Hebe and Schwaderlapp offered resignation

Among the accused are the Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hebe (54) and the Cologne auxiliary bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp (53), who offered their resignation to the Pope on Thursday.

Also accused are the former vicar general Norbert Feldhoff (81) and the late archbishops Joseph Hoffner (1906-1987) and Joachim Meisner (1933-2017).

There had been a months-long dispute over the investigation. Cardinal Woelki did not want to publish a first expert opinion of another law firm as initially planned, because he considers it faulty. Critics accused him of a lack of willingness to clarify the matter and poor communication.

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