The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, has made no demonstrable mistakes in dealing with cases of sexual abuse in his diocese. However, his predecessors and a number of direct colleagues have failed. This is evidenced by an 800-page survey conducted by a number of lawyers. They also note that the administration of abuse cases is chaos and that the welfare of the offender was put above the best interests of the victim.
The lawyers examined how the Archdiocese of Cologne dealt with cases of sexual abuse between 1975 and 2018. They did it by order of the diocese. They‘re stating that there must be at least 200 perpetrators and more than 300 casualties.
In a first reaction, Cardinal Woelki said that he feared this day: “We have long known that clergy has been guilty of sexual abuse. They’ve embarrassed the trust they‘ve received and they haven’t protected victims. That is obscure, and today we learn the sad meaning of that word.”
Woelki has removed from their duties two senior officials in his archdiocese, who have made demonstrable mistakes, with immediate effect. Among them is one of his auxiliary bishops.
Unrest in Catholic Church
This research has been causing unrest in the Catholic Church in Germany for months. The report presented today is the second report, a first one has been in a drawer for months. The cardinal kept that out of publicity, under the guise of possible investigative errors. People inside and outside the church are highly indignant about that. For those who keep documents out of publicity, there is a suspicion of wanting to cover things up. The criticism is. Thousands of Catholics have been unsubscribing from the church recently.
But the indignation continues. Dozens of priests are also critical of the way in which their bishop handled the investigations. They wrote open letters on their websites and in the media and pleaded for his departure. Among them is Father Klaus Koltermann from Dormagen: “Everything seems to be about the perpetrators and their protection. Where are the victims in this story?”
He understands that people who, until recently, went to church, are now unsubscribing. A prayer service for the victims is taking place tonight in his parish church.
Those victims, above all, want church officials, who did not intervene when they knew abuses were taking place, to become aware of what they have done. Like Patrick Bauer, working in everyday life as a pastoral worker. “When I prepare children for First Communion, I teach them what confession means. Namely that you think about what you have done wrong, ask forgiveness for that and from now on do your best not to do it again. That is exactly what I hope from the Archbishop and the people around him.”