Cologne Catholic Church Failed in Dealing with Intercourse Abuse Claims, Report Finds

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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 couple of matter that has led 1000’s within the space to sever their relationship with the church over the previous 12 months.

The report, launched on Tuesday, discovered no wrongdoing by the cardinal, Rainer Maria Woelki. However an auxiliary bishop serving within the archdiocese and the top of its ecclesiastical courtroom had been each named within the 800-page evaluation. 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 immediately, it’s now not potential to say we had no thought,” Cardinal Woelki mentioned after the discharge of the report — which he had not beforehand seen, however which mentioned he had been fearing. “I’m deeply moved and shamed by this, and I’m satisfied that for clerics, their actions will need to 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 evaluation. Cardinal Woelki mentioned 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 legislation 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 constructions, particularly within the western area round Cologne. The church has intensive 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 useless, who dedicated 75 cases of misconduct by failing to report abuse to the suitable authorities or to adequately defend victims. He burdened that the report centered on how the church had dealt with abuse accusations and never on particular cases of abuse.

Additionally named as having failed of their duties was the Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Hesse, who had beforehand served in Cologne. Cardinal Woelki’s predecessor, Archbishop Joachim Meisner, who died in 2017, was additionally mentioned to have didn’t act correctly in 24 cases.

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 identical time, it discovered that church leaders and others accountable for dealing with complaints of abuse didn’t maintain correct information or documentation, Kerstin Stirner, a lawyer who labored on the report, mentioned at a information convention in Cologne.

An opaque system existed for many years during which nobody felt accountable, she mentioned.

“It was marked by chaos” and a “lack of accountability and misunderstanding” that modified solely in 2015, when a construction was established for reporting and dealing with abuse circumstances, Ms. Stirner mentioned.

Mr. Gercke really useful additional strengthening the procedures for reporting abuse and bettering the accuracy of record-keeping as a part of efforts to forestall future misconduct.

He additionally mentioned the church wanted to alter an inner tradition that centered extra on salvaging the establishment’s popularity 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 mentioned 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 12 months, the cardinal has been broadly 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 problem.

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