On Tuesday, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne announced further consequences of an abuse report for his archdiocese. In the meantime, the archbishop ruled out to make his office available.
"What would be won with a resignation? That would be the easier way," he told Die Zeit (Monday). "By remaining in office, I take responsibility for what I started in Cologne: the relentless clarification."
According to the archdiocese, Woelki had first shared the results of the investigation with the public last Thursday. He said he had used the past few days to read the report, draw conclusions and hold discussions. He wants to present the coming steps with Vicar General Markus Hofmann.
Report reveals violations of duty
The report, which the archdiocese commissioned from the law firm Gercke Wollschlager, shows how diocesan officials dealt with cases of sexualized violence by priests. The investigation records a total of 75 breaches of duty by 8 officials, including archbishops, vicars general and personnel managers, in 24 of 236 files evaluated. For example, they did not investigate suspicions or sanction criminal behavior.
Immediately after the presentation of the investigation, Woelki had temporarily relieved Auxiliary Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp (53) and Cologne Official Gunter Assenmacher (69) of their duties. One day later, he also suspended auxiliary bishop Ansgar Puff (65). The Hamburg archbishop Stefan Hebe (54), which was in former times personnel chief and Generalvikar in Cologne, lets rest its office. He and Schwaderlapp have offered their resignations to the pope. Woelki himself has not been found guilty of any misconduct.
Disastrous file situation
The experts attest that the archdiocese has a disastrous file situation and that the officials are very ignorant of the law. The protection of the institution church had stood in the foreground. The study also contains suggestions for improvement: The archdiocese should, among other things, professionalize record keeping, provide further training for managers and create an office to monitor offender restraints, he said.
Woelki had commissioned the report only in October of last year. This is the second draft for the archdiocese – a first report by a Munich law firm was initially not published as planned because the cardinal considers it flawed. Critics therefore accused him of lacking the will to clarify the situation. Starting on Thursday, those affected, journalists and other interested parties will be given an insight into this first draft.