“He accepted the penalty order”

The archdiocese of Cologne has removed a 64-year-old priest from all posts with immediate effect because he was given a suspended sentence for abusing a child. The community in Morsbach was informed of this move over the weekend. The diocese has informed the Vatican, where it will now decide on further steps to be taken.

In the pastoral area of Morsbach/ Friesenhagen/ Wildbergerhutte, the following announcement was read out during the weekend church services:
"Rev. Msgr. Rainer Gille died on 17. In February 2011, he was relieved of his duties as pastor and chairman of the Catholic Parish Association of Morsbach/Friesenhagen/Wildbergerhutte and given leave of absence, effective immediately. He is prohibited from exercising his priestly ministry outside of a private setting until further notice.

Archbishop Joachim Cardinal Meisner was prompted to take the step after becoming aware of a criminal order against Father Gille. According to this, pastor Gille is accused of sexual abuse of a child. Mouradian accepted the penalty order but failed to inform the archdiocese of it in breach of his duties. Although the decision was pronounced last year, it has only now become known to the Archdiocese of Cologne, contrary to the usual official procedures.

In accordance with church law, the archdiocese is reporting the matter to Rome, where a decision will be made on further disciplinary action against the priest. The archdiocese is also in contact with the victim's lawyer.

In the Archdiocese of Cologne, the principle applies that sexual abuse is not tolerated by the Church under any circumstances. Sexual abuse, the associated psychological injuries and the profound loss of trust affect the victims and their families in particular, but also all of us as a church. Every single act is one too many. Therefore, let us follow up every hint with all consistency. We would therefore like to point out once again the three contact persons of our archdiocese who can be contacted for any information on sexual abuse. We offer professional help to all victims. All further information and the contact details of our contact persons can be found on the website of the Archdiocese of Cologne, among other places.

We know that even our most honest efforts are limited and depend on God's help. We therefore want to pray for the victims of abuse and violence, that they may find ways of healing. Let us also pray for the perpetrators, that they will not avoid their guilt and confess to their deed. Finally, let us pray for all of us, that we may be attentive, prudent and wise in doing everything possible to avoid such suffering.

Prelate Dr. Stefan Hebe, Head of the Department of Pastoral Care Personnel in the Archdiocesan Vicariate General."

Also read was the following statement by Pastor Rainer Gille:
"I have been relieved of my duties in the pastoral area of Morsbach/Friesenhagen/Wildbergerhutte with immediate effect and am on leave from my priestly ministry. The reason is my legally binding conviction last year for sexual abuse of a child. That was a serious offense that I regret very much. Furthermore, it was a serious breach of duty that I did not inform the Archdiocese of Cologne about this criminal order. I know that I must face up to my responsibility, and I confess my deed with great shame. I ask all of you for your prayers for the person whom I have severely harmed by my wrongful actions. I ask forgiveness from God and from all of you whom I have disappointed by my behavior. Rev. Rainer Gille"

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Christina Cherry
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