Catholic laypeople demand local synod

Catholic laypeople in the Archdiocese of Cologne want a local synod on how clergy sexual abuse is handled in the archdiocese.

“We must make every effort to reestablish a genuine dialogue between the cardinal, senior members of the diocesan leadership and the grassroots of the church,” says Tim Kurzbach, president of the Cologne archdiocesan council of Catholics.

On March 18, the law firm Gercke Wollschläger released a report on how clergy sexual abuse was handled in the archdiocese.

The report showed that in 24 of 236 files studied, an investigation found 75 breaches of duty by eight officials.

The officials include archbishops, vicars general and personnel managers.

Among those accused are Hamburg’s Archbishop Stefan Hesse and Cologne’s Auxiliary Bishop Dominik Schwaderlapp, as well as two former archbishops of Cologne, now deceased: Cardinals Joachim Meisner and Joseph Höffner.

Pope Francis has granted Hesse leave of absence from his duties as archbishop.

Schwaderlapp has been suspended from his duties until further notice and has offered his resignation to Francis.

Cologne’s Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki was not incriminated.

He later said, however, “It’s not just about doing the right thing, it’s about doing everything humanly possible. And I didn’t do that.”

The archdiocesan council — which represents laypeople — says it hope a synod will lead to improved communication and “a new beginning based on sincerity and honesty.”

It also hopes the synod will create a binding framework for the future and address the systemic causes of sexual abuse.

Kurzbach says the synod should be prepared by a working group and led jointly by the diocesan leadership and laypeople and that everyone involved in the church should be able to participate.

This working group should include equal numbers of representatives from the archdiocesan leadership and grassroots membership; councils, associations and women’s groups also should be included.

A diocesan synod is defined by church law as an assembly of clergy and laypeople of a diocese convened by a bishop.

It is usually presided over by the bishop and advises him. The bishop determines the issues to be addressed and decides which resolutions come into force.

Since the turn of this century there has only been one German diocesan synod so far.

That one took place in the Diocese of Trier from 2013 to 2016.

Some of its resolutions, including the creation of leadership teams for parishes in which clergy and laypeople participate equally in management, were later corrected in response to Vatican directives.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: ,