Zero tolerance line on abuse

Zero tolerance line on abuse

It is the next step in coming to terms with sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne: original files have now been handed over to the public prosecutor's offices. A law firm has also been appointed to conduct an independent investigation.

The Archdiocese of Cologne is actively cooperating with the relevant public prosecutors' offices in dealing with suspected cases of sexual abuse. The public prosecutor's office in Cologne had indicated to the archdiocese its need for file material in connection with the MHG study in a conversation.

The original files in question were handed over on Monday. Already on Friday, original files have also been delivered to the responsible public prosecutor's offices in Dusseldorf and Bonn. "This means that completely all known cases from the past have now been handed over for examination and further investigation," explained the Archdiocese's Intervention Officer Oliver Vogt.

"Detached from the results of the investigation by the public prosecutors, however, all of these cases will also be the subject of the independent investigation that Cardinal Woelki is commissioning," Vogt continued.

The independent investigation was commissioned to the law firm 'Westpfahl, Spilker, Wastl' from Munich, The law firm has extensive expertise in the field of criminal law and in connection with internal investigations and has been working intensively on the ie of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church since 2010.

The firm's work is supported by canon lawyer Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Rees of the University of Innsbruck and the director of the Child Protection Center at the Gregorian University, Prof. P. Dr. Hans Zollner, SJ.

Vicar General: "Guarantee an independent investigation"

The goal of the independent investigation, in addition to coming to terms with the facts, is to clarify the role of those responsible then and now, chiefs of staff, vicars general and bishops. "We guarantee an independent investigation. It is an essential building block of enlightenment for us" so Vicar General Dr. Markus Hofmann.

"I am grateful to Father Zollner for his contribution. Through his comprehensive and probably unique overview of the worldwide cases of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, the results of the independent investigation can be placed in the context of the entire church and are given greater weight," says Hofmann.

Through the involvement of Prof. Rees, who as a proven expert in ecclesiastical criminal law has dealt intensively with the area of sexual abuse, is guaranteed a capture of the respective applicable ecclesiastical criminal law on sexual abuse. Vicar General Hofmann: "Thus, the independent investigation also offers the possibility to develop reform proposals for the ecclesiastical sexual penal law. This also addresses a recommendation made by the researchers in the MHG study."

The Archdiocese of Cologne thus consistently follows the path announced by Archbishop Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki in September of a zero-tolerance line for the future but also the past.

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