Archbishop Heiner Koch © Harald Oppitz (KNA)
According to Berlin Archbishop Heiner Koch, the Church has been guilty of a lack of consistency in taking action against child abuse.
Sexual abuse of children is a crime that must be unreservedly clarified and prosecuted, with all consequence, Koch stressed on Thursday evening in Berlin. "That we have not done this is guilt and this is shameful."
Koch commented on the meaning of the "C" in the party in response to a question at an event organized by the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
At the same time he emphasized: "We are not an elite church of the top 10.000 who live faultlessly."The Church of Jesus Christ is also the place where the weak and sinners have their place. But this should not be understood as a justification of sin. This becomes "dramatically clear on a day like today," the archbishop said. "Mercy is what we need" says Koch. However, he said, it was "not a free pass for mistakes, but an incentive to deal very, very seriously with us on these points.".
Breaches of duty by diocesan officials
On Thursday morning, lawyers had presented an expert opinion on the handling of abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Cologne. In 24 of the 236 files evaluated, the team led by criminal lawyer Bjorn Gercke identified breaches of duty by diocesan officials.
For example, the officials did not follow up on suspicions, did not investigate, or did not sanction criminal conduct. In no case was it a matter of obstruction of justice in the penal sense.
Among those accused are Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hebe (54), who was formerly chief of staff and vicar general in Cologne, and Cologne Auxiliary Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp (53), also a former Cologne vicar general. Both dignitaries offered their resignations to Pope Francis as late as Thursday. They are thus the first bishops in Germany to draw personal consequences because of the abuse scandal.