“This must not be”

Cologne Cathedral in the rain © LucaseTV (shutterstock)

The waters have not yet been smoothed over: Cologne's Catholic Committee has expressed "catch-no-frills" over the promotion of a clergyman who had sexual contact with a 17-year-old prostitute 20 years ago.

Those responsible apparently only think in terms of criminal or canonical defense strategies, the lay representation criticized on Tuesday. Ethical-moral or even Christian standards of value apparently played no role.

Vicar general defends promotion

Specifically, the case involves Dusseldorf's Rev. D., whom Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki appointed deputy city dean in 2017. Last week, Cologne's Vicar General Markus Hofmann defended the promotion, which is linked to representational duties for the church at the local level.

The cleric had confessed and repented of the one-off incident in 2001. Moreover, at that time it was not a criminal act, neither according to ecclesiastical nor secular law. Asked about further accusations against the clergyman, Hofmann said that these were only anonymous and denied accusations and rumors.

People yearned for good shepherds and energetic leaders, Catholic committee said. "Instead, it is argued that it is not legally forbidden for a priest to exploit the prostitution of an underage boy."

View of the Gercke expert opinion

The expert report by Cologne criminal lawyer Bjorn Gercke, published in March, revealed catastrophic structural deficiencies in combating abuse in the archdiocese's personnel administration, the committee said. The responsible archbishops, suffragan bishops, vicars general, personnel managers, officers and justices should have known about the deficiencies and remedied them, but failed to do so.

Their clear organizational fault had however legally no consequences. "Morality and decency are thus eliminated as a yardstick. This must not be allowed to happen," stressed the lay representatives.

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Christina Cherry
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