Cologne cardinal: ‘System of silence’ contributed to abuse scandal

0
23 March 2021, North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne, takes part in a press conference of the Archdiocese of Cologne to present the consequences of the expert opinion on abuse published last week by the criminal lawyer Gercke. Photo: Oliver Berg/dpa-Pool/dpa
23 March 2021, North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne, takes part in a press conference of the Archdiocese of Cologne to present the consequences of the expert opinion on abuse published last week by the criminal lawyer Gercke. Photo: Oliver Berg/dpa-Pool/dpa

dpa/GNA – The archbishop of Cologne admitted to a “systematic cover-up” in his archdiocese on Monday, just days after a team of German lawyers released a major 800-page report on sexual abuse cases in the city of Cologne.

“It should never have happened like this,” Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki said, adding that “administrative chaos,” a “system of silence, secrecy and a lack of control,” as well as “a lack of compassion (and) empathy” had contributed to the scandal.

“Rigorous action” now had to be taken to prevent this from happening in the future, Woelki conceded.

The report found that, between 1975 and 2018, 202 people within the Cologne archdiocese were suspected of involvement in abuse, and that 63 per cent of those accused were clerics.

In almost half of the cases – 47 per cent – the allegations pertained to sexual abuse or serious sexual abuse. The remainder were classified as other types of sexual misconduct and personal boundary violations.

A number of bishops and other church officials have been suspended or have offered their resignation in the wake of the report’s release.

Though Woelki was officially absolved by the report, he said on Tuesday that he often wondered whether he had failed the victims.

In the case of one alleged abuser, for example, he had fulfilled his legal obligation, but he still wondered whether he had done “everything humanly possible” to bring the facts to light, Woelki said.

“I didn’t do that. I didn’t have to report to Rome, but I could and should have done it,” he said.

The alleged abuser, now deceased, is accused of sexually abusing a boy in the late 1970s.

Woelki also mentioned the case of another priest who sexually abused several children in the 1990s, saying he should have suspended the priest earlier. He described it as a “shameful example of my personal inadequacy.”

He said he nonetheless did not consider his resignation appropriate.

“The problems would remain after I left. Such a resignation would be nothing more than a symbol that lasts for a short time,” he said.

Send your news stories to newsghana101@gmail.com and via WhatsApp on +233 244244807 Follow News Ghana on Google News

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here