“This church is also a sinful church”

As a consequence of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, Bishop Heiner Wilmer of Hildesheim calls for a "radical rethinking". Investigations in the form of "truth commissions" are necessary, said Wilmer.

The abuse of power is "in the DNA of the church," Wilmer told the "Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger" (Friday); and further: "With me there will be no clammy disappearance in any drawers."

The Hildesheim bishop warned: "We still do not take the problem of sexualized violence and abuse of power in the church seriously enough."Those who, like him, are concerned with justice for the victims must "uncover and clarify everything that has happened, as best we can".

Church "too much on its high horse"

Wilmer also called for profound theological consequences. "In the future, we will only be able to confess faith in the 'holy Church' honestly if we also confess: This church is also a sinful church." There are "structures of evil" in the church as a community. Bishops in Germany, Wilmer said, "are still too much on their high horse for my liking".

The new Hildesheim bishop demanded more participation for lay people and warned critics of such demands, such as German Curia Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, against "forgetting history".

"Effective checks on power"

"To curb evil in the church, we need effective checks on power in the church." There is a need for "separation of powers" and "a system of 'checks and balances'". The bishop acknowledged that as a representative of the "perpetrator side," he too was guilty, even if he himself was not a perpetrator.

Wilmer had recently become the first German bishop to speak of failures of his predecessors in office, naming names including that of Heinrich Maria Janssen (bishop 1957-1982). The latter is accused of having "regularly" sexually abused a young altar boy.

Naming names is part of truthfulness, Wilmer stressed. "On the other hand, it will not help us now to keep naming names and more names." It would be better if the perpetrators themselves and those who covered for them or neglected victims owned up to it; "but that's easier said than done sometimes". All times could "this difficult topic divide the diocese".

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