“Mood in communities at rock bottom”

The handling of the processing of cases of sexualized violence in the Archdiocese of Cologne has led to a crisis of credibility, according to Bonn City Dean Wolfang Picken. Now only total transparency and consistency will help, he said.

The Bonn city deacon Wolfgang Picken calls on former and active leaders in the Archdiocese of Cologne to admit on their own initiative possible mistakes in dealing with abuse cases and to draw consequences. The question already arises "why those responsible, who must be aware that they are guilty, wait for the publication of an expert opinion instead of taking immediate action and drawing the consequences from their misconduct". So they could avert much damage from the church, writes Picken in a statement published Wednesday.

The archdiocese of Cologne had commissioned a Munich law firm to provide an expert opinion on clergy abuse. The paper should also show how previous leaders handled cases.

New expert opinion on 18. March

Last October, however, the archdiocese cancelled publication of the report, citing "methodological flaws" in the report. It commissioned a criminal lawyer with a new expert opinion, which is due by 18. due in March.

But the ie is not off the table after this publication, Picken stressed. "We need to systematically deal with this and ask ourselves what the consequences will be for those named in the report."

Vatican examines allegations

The city dean called for transparency. He said the mood in the archdiocese has never been so at rock bottom. Because of the credibility crisis, even committed people would leave the church. It said this was understandable in light of the unprofessional crisis management of those responsible. "If clear consequences do not follow, the loss of credibility will remain permanent," warned Picken.

The city's dean did not directly criticize Cologne Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki. The is currently under fire because of the handling of the Munich report. In addition, the cardinal is accused of having been involved in cover-ups himself. He allegedly failed to report an abuse case from the 1970s, which he learned about in 2015, to the Vatican in breach of duty. Woelki has asked the pope to look into these allegations against him.

Sternberg: "Gross errors"

On Wednesday, the president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Thomas Sternberg, also commented on the incidents in the Archdiocese of Cologne in the "Bonner General-Anzeiger" newspaper. Due to "gross errors" all those dioceses would be set back "which approach this topic with greater consistency", said the highest German lay representative.

Sternberg expressed confidence that the situation would be clarified once everything was transparently on the table. "If it should then turn out that massive mistakes have been made, the amption of personal responsibility and also a resignation must be a possible consequence, just as Cardinal Woelki himself once formulated it."

Various personalities and organizations have already explicitly called for Woelki's resignation. At the turn of the year, Klaus Koltermann, a priest from Dormagen, joined this demand for the first time.

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