Cologne’s cardinal offers pope resignation over scandals

Cologne’s cardinal, Rainer Maria Woelki, for a second time, has offered his resignation to Pope Francis.

Woelki has been facing strong criticism for several months for his responses to allegations of child abuse in the Church.

He chose to take a five-month break from his duties last September after the Vatican report accused him of “major mistakes” in his handling of reports of sexual abuse at the hands of priests.

The Pope will make a decision about Woelki’s resignation “in due course”.

In the meantime, Woelki is expected to remain in his post.

The reports leading to Woelki’s offers of resignation were both commissioned by him.

In 2019, the Cologne archdiocese commissioned the law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl to examine relevant personnel files from 1975 onward.

The aim was to determine “which personal, systemic or structural deficits were responsible in the past for incidents of sexual abuse being covered up or not being punished consistently”.

Woelki cited legal reasons for not releasing the information after archdiocesan lawyers raised concerns about “methodological deficiencies” in the study.

He then commissioned criminal law expert Professor Björn Gercke to write a new report.

The 800-page Gercke report examined 236 files in detail with the aim of identifying failures and violations of the law, as well as those responsible for them.

It found hundreds of cases of suspected sexual abuse in the archdiocese between 1975 and 2018. Most victims were under 14 years old.

In a Lenten pastoral letter published on Wednesday, Woelki said “Certainly, I realise that the situation has not become any easier since October last year. A time-out in itself does not solve any problems”.

He added that any reconciliation could “only be contemplated, attempted and concretely undertaken in cooperation”, not by taking time out from each other.


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News category: Palmerston, World.

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