Cardinal to take legal action over perjury raid

Cardinal Woelki legal action

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki (pictured), the Archbishop of Cologne, has announced his intention to take legal action after investigators on June 27 searched his residence and other buildings belonging to the Archdiocese of Cologne.

The search operation involved approximately 30 police officers and four state prosecutors.

According to KNA news agency, the cardinal’s lawyer, Bjoern Gercke, expressed concern over the apparent leak of information and the timing of the search’s disclosure to the media.

Gercke announced his intention to file a criminal complaint against unidentified individuals for breaching confidentiality.

Gercke also criticised certain media outlets, pointing out that journalists had gathered at the archbishop’s door half an hour before the investigators arrived.

“We would have voluntarily provided everything the prosecution needed,” the lawyer emphasised, rendering the raid unnecessary.

The motive behind the searches was an ongoing investigation into Cardinal Woelki, who stands accused of providing false testimony under oath in court.

The prosecutor’s office confirmed that properties in six locations were searched, commencing at 8am local time.

Among the sites were the offices of the vicar general, the diocesan tribunal, the archbishop’s residence and the offices of the archdiocese’s IT email service provider.

“The measures are directed toward the investigation into a merely initial suspicion and in this respect toward the establishment of both incriminating and exonerating circumstances,” the state prosecutor’s office said.

Woelki denies foreknowledge of allegations

To avoid misinterpretation, the office clarified, “it is also explicitly pointed out that the accused is in no way charged with actively or even passively covering up or even participating in acts of abuse,” KNA reported.

Cardinal Woelki has been battling media reports suggesting that he had prior knowledge of allegations against a priest before reassigning him.

In response, the Archdiocese of Cologne stated on June 27 that examining business documents and emails would determine whether the accusation of a testimony-related offence against the cardinal could be substantiated or refuted.

The investigation aims to ascertain when Cardinal Woelki became aware of incriminating documents involving two priests engaged in sexual relations with minors.

Regarding the allegations against Winfried Pilz, the former leader of the Cologne carolers, Cardinal Woelki firmly denies any foreknowledge. Similarly, he denies having prior knowledge of the other priest’s case, as the individual had been transferred to another diocese upon retiring in 2012.

The Archdiocese of Cologne cautioned that it would likely take some time before the investigation yielded conclusive results. Accordingly, they urged the public to refrain from making premature judgments based on an ongoing investigation.


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