Archbishop Stefan Hebe © Lars Berg (KNA)
Pope Francis accepted the age-related resignations of several bishops on Friday. The offered resignations of Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hebe and Cologne auxiliary bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp were not among them.
Both had offered their posts to the pope in connection with the abuse affair of the archdiocese of Cologne.
Hebe leaves official business in abeyance
After his resignation request, the Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hebe meanwhile rests his official duties with immediate effect. Vicar General Ansgar Thim now leads the Archdiocese of Hamburg on a provisional basis, as the press office of the archdiocese announced on Friday.
Thim had already made his first appointments in his new role. Hebe will be assisted by the archdiocese's administrative director, Alexander Becker, and auxiliary bishop Horst Eberlein. Eberlein will also take over a deacon ordination planned for Saturday in Hamburg's Mariendom in Heb's place, according to the archdiocese's website.
Hebe had offered his resignation to Pope Francis in a personal statement on Thursday and asked to be relieved of his duties immediately. Previously, an incriminating abuse report had been presented in the archdiocese of Cologne, where Hebe had previously worked. It accuses Hebe of eleven breaches of duty in investigating nine different cases of abuse.
Former vicar general in Cologne archdiocese
Hebe has been archbishop of Hamburg since 2015 and was previously head of personnel from 2006 and vicar general in the archdiocese of Cologne from 2012 to 2015.
The 54-year-old is the first German diocesan bishop who could lose his office in the wake of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The Pope must decide on the resignation and the request for release from office. Also the Cologne auxiliary bishop and former Generalvikar Dominikus Schwaderlapp (53) had offered his resignation on Thursday. Cologne Auxiliary Bishop Ansgar Puff has been placed on leave for the time being.
Catholic committee: Cooperation with Hebe no longer possible
Meanwhile, the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) wants to end its cooperation with Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hebe. "The events following the publication of the expert opinion for the Archdiocese of Cologne show that, from the point of view of the ZdK, the basis for a trusting cooperation no longer exists," the presidium stated in a statement released Friday in Bonn.
Hebe had been spiritual assistant to the ZdK since November 2016. Already since November he had let this office rest in view of the public debate about the processing of the sexual abuse in the archdiocese Cologne.