BERLIN — The Cardinal of Cologne in Germany has suspended two high-ranking officers named in a report on the church’s dealing with of accusations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergymen, bringing an finish to months of hypothesis a few matter that has led hundreds within the space to sever their relationship with the church over the previous yr.
The report, launched on Tuesday, discovered no wrongdoing by the cardinal, Rainer Maria Woelki. However an auxiliary bishop serving within the archdiocese and the pinnacle of its ecclesiastical court docket had been each named within the 800-page evaluate. It paperwork a “systematic cover-up” within the archdiocese’s dealing with of accusations of sexual abuse from 1975 to 2018, and the cardinal instantly introduced suspensions for each males.
“As of right now, it’s not doable to say we had no thought,” Cardinal Woelki stated after the discharge of the report — which he had not beforehand seen, however which stated he had been fearing. “I’m deeply moved and shamed by this, and I’m satisfied that for clerics, their actions should have penalties.”
None of these named had been accused of felony wrongdoing, though a duplicate of the report was despatched to prosecutors in Cologne for evaluate. Cardinal Woelki stated a duplicate would even be despatched to the Vatican.
The discharge of the report, by Björn Gercke, a lawyer in Cologne, had been eagerly awaited amid rising frustration over Cardinal Woelki’s refusal to make public the outcomes of an earlier investigation by a Munich-based regulation agency into the conduct of church leaders. An identical examination by that Munich agency into misconduct within the neighboring Diocese of Aachen was made public.
Germany is basically secular, and fewer than a 3rd of its 82 million inhabitants belong to the Catholic Church. However the church stays a robust establishment, deeply embedded in German tradition and social buildings, particularly within the western area round Cologne. The church has in depth property holdings and runs a number of hospitals, day care facilities and nursing properties that make use of greater than one million folks.
Mr. Gercke’s report named eight folks, two of whom are lifeless, who dedicated 75 situations of misconduct by failing to report abuse to the suitable authorities or to adequately shield victims. He harassed that the report centered on how the church had dealt with abuse accusations and never on particular situations of abuse.
Additionally named as having failed of their duties had been the Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Hesse, who had beforehand served in Cologne. Cardinal’s Woelki’s predecessor, Archbishop Joachim Meisner, who died in 2017, was additionally stated to have did not act correctly in 24 situations.
Archbishop Meisner additionally stored a secret file, titled “Brothers within the Mist,” that included particulars of accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse, the report discovered.
On the similar time, it discovered that church leaders and others answerable for dealing with complaints of abuse did not preserve correct data or documentation, Kerstin Stirner, a lawyer who labored on the report, stated at a information convention in Cologne.
An opaque system existed for many years wherein nobody felt accountable, she stated.
“It was marked by chaos” and a “lack of duty and misunderstanding” that modified solely in 2015, when a construction was established for reporting and dealing with abuse circumstances, Ms. Stirner stated.
Mr. Gercke beneficial additional strengthening the procedures for reporting abuse and enhancing the accuracy of record-keeping as a part of efforts to stop future misconduct.
He additionally stated the church wanted to alter an inside tradition that centered extra on salvaging the establishment’s status than defending the victims.
The outcomes of the still-unreleased Munich report had been to have been offered final March. However after weeks of delaying its launch, Cardinal Woelki stated it had issues so grave that it couldn’t be made public. That led to public suspicion that there was one thing to cowl up.
Over the previous yr, the cardinal has been extensively criticized, and greater than 12,000 parishioners have both already give up the church or made an appointment to take action.
Since 2010, the Bishops’ Convention has run a hotline for abuse, and had a bishop serving as its personal commissioner on the difficulty.