The bishop of Rotterdam, Van den Hende, today started a major investigation into sexual abuse by German clergy. Van den Hende and Cardinal Arborelius of Stockholm are in Cologne for an apostolic visit. That is a major investigation commissioned by Pope Francis.
The two should “present a comprehensive picture of the complex pastoral situation in the archdiocese”, stated in a statement issued in Cologne. They must also investigate possible errors by the Cologne Cardinal Woelki. The Dutchman and the Swede will speak to victims of abuse among others.
Hundreds of offenders and victims
In March, a large report was published on how the Archdiocese of Cologne dealt with cases of sexual abuse between 1975 and 2018. The researchers, who worked on behalf of the diocese, found that there must be at least 200 perpetrators, and more than 300 victims.
Several clergy accused of absenteeism, resigned or were expelled. At the end of last week, the Cardinal of Munich, Marx, unexpectedly resigned to the Pope. According to Marx, the church has been “at a dead point” because of all the scandals.
Cardinal Woelki is accused of not reporting abuses to Rome and that the approach under his leadership is slow. Woelki refuses to leave. Because of the scandals, more and more believers in Cologne and its surroundings claim their membership of the Catholic Church. Critics hope that the research of Van den Hende and Arborelius will lead the pope to send away Woelki as well.