View of Cologne Cathedral © Guenter Albers (shutterstock)
At its constituent meeting on 5. In June, the newly elected Diocesan Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Cologne dealt with the progress of the Pastoral Way Forward. Topics were also the Cologne College of Catholic Theology in Sankt Augustin and the independent investigation of sexualized violence.
The central advisory body, chaired by Archbishop Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki, met for situational reasons as a video conference with about 90 participants. For the current stage of the Pastoral Way Forward, a review of developments since the last meeting was first on the agenda: Small groups and focus teams have continued their work in recent months. The topics of the outline of objectives were further elaborated. The work areas as well as the steering and project team have also continued to meet and have already discussed the first concepts of the focus teams – since March in video conferences due to the Corona pandemic. Thus, the work in the topical stage could be continued largely within the planned time frame. The discussion of the content of the central interim results of the current stage will take place at a special meeting of the diocesan pastoral council at the end of August.
In addition, it is now certain that pastoral area forums will be held in September and October 2020 in the 180 pastoral areas of the Archdiocese of Cologne. These were originally to be held as face-to-face events and with the possibility of decentralized participation after Easter 2020, but had to be cancelled at short notice due to the outbreak of the Corona pandemic.
Independent investigation into sexualized violence in the Archdiocese of Cologne
Regarding the Independent Investigation of Sexualized Violence in the Archdiocese of Cologne, Vicar General Hofmann explained how the decision to postpone the already announced publication of the report at short notice came about. Only with the greatest legal care, the vicar general said, would such a publication satisfy the strict legal requirements, especially if, as announced, the names of those who, according to the reviewers, failed to live up to their responsibilities at the time were publicly mentioned. This touches on very sensitive ies of the right of expression. After extensive consultation with experts in the field of freedom of expression, the decision was made to postpone the press conference, which had been largely prepared, in order to be able to conclusively clarify these questions first.
"This decision does not mean that we are in any way backing away from our plan for consistent clarification," Hofmann emphasized. It also remains the case that the lawyers commissioned can work independently and that, in addition to possible structural deficits in the past in the clarification of sexualized violence, the responsibility of individuals is also taken into account. This is particularly important to those affected. "Care is more important here than speed," says the vicar general. Hebe said that he is working at full speed on the necessary steps, but that there is not yet a new publication date. The for the 12. The press conference planned for March, with which the final report of the "Independent Investigation" was to be presented, had to be canceled at short notice for the reasons described above.
Cologne University for Catholic Theology
Since February 2020, the sponsorship of the former "Philosophical-Theological University" in Sankt Augustin has changed to the Archdiocese of Cologne and now bears the name "Cologne University of Catholic Theology (KHKT) – Sankt Augustin". The ecclesiastically and state-recognized academic university with faculty status is open to anyone who wants to study theology with a focus on missions, cultures and religions. In this way, students are enabled professionally, methodically and socially to bear witness to the Christian message in various historical and cultural contexts in this country and worldwide under the conditions of globalization, and to develop competencies for action in encounters with other religions and cultures.
The Diocesan Pastoral Council is the central advisory body to the archbishop, in which the work of the other diocesan bodies is bundled, and is composed accordingly; the 75 members are to act as multipliers in the archdiocese. The task of the council is, according to canon law (can. 511 CIC) the study and consultation of all questions relating to pastoral activity in the diocese. The questions to be addressed can be asked by the archbishop or proposed by members of the diocesan pastoral council for the archbishop's consideration. Suggestions for practical consequences are elaborated in this regard. The Second Vatican Council had recommended in its decree Christus Dominus (Article 27) that a special pastoral council be established in each diocese, presided over by the diocesan bishop himself and composed of clergy, religious and lay people.