Dusseldorf city dean Ulrich Hennes is on leave of absence. His duties will be taken over during the leave of absence by the pastors Joachim Decker and Frank Heidkamp. The archdiocese plans to address the faithful with a proclamation.
This weekend, the Archdiocese of Cologne will have a proclamation read out in Dusseldorf parishes. In it, the archdiocese asks in particular for an independent review of the accusations against Hennes. He is accused of sexually harassing an adult intern in 2012.
In the proclamation, the archdiocese also appeals to the faithful to await the outcome of the trial. "Until the conclusion of the proceedings initiated, no preliminary condemnation should take place; the presumption of innocence applies," reads the document signed by the head of the Department of Pastoral Care Personnel, Mike Kolb.
When asked, the Cologne vicar general Markus Hofmann confirmed to our site the representations in Dusseldorf.
Effective immediately, Joachim Decker will serve as parish administrator at St. Lambertus and Frank Heidkamp as "deputy city dean to take over the duties as acting city dean" for the duration of the leave of absence.
Decker and Heidkamp take over the ministry
Decker has been pastor in Eller and Lierenfeld for 19 years. The news reached him at a conference of senior pastors in the Cologne diocese, the Rheinische Post reported. "My most important task is to bring calm to the troubled inner-city community," he told the newspaper.
Heidkamp has been pastor in Dusseldorf since 2007.
Hennes denies the allegation
Hennes has been on leave since the beginning of the week. He had been city dean since July 2015, making him the highest-ranking pastor in Dusseldorf. Hennes denies accusation against him.
The archdiocese said it had forwarded the sexual harassment allegations to the public prosecutor's office. In addition, an internal church procedure had been opened.