E.in reports on the handling of cases of abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne found breaches of duty by public officials in 24 of the total of 236 evaluated files. In 104 cases there are also indications of possible breaches of duty, said the lawyer and co-author of the study, Kerstin Stirner, to journalists in Cologne on Thursday. The actions of those responsible in the Archdiocese had been shaped for many years “by chaos, subjectively perceived incompetence and misunderstandings”. This only changed with the establishment of an intervention center in 2015. In previous years, it was simply not possible to reconstruct the conditions in the archdiocese due to contradicting statements from those affected.
The criminal lawyer Björn Gercke accused today’s Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Heße, of eleven breaches of duty in connection with the processing of allegations of abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne. With the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki, Gercke and his team do not see any breaches of duty.
By far the most serious allegations were made by the experts to Cardinal Joachim Meisner from Cologne, who died in 2017. This is to be blamed for 24 breaches of duty and thus almost a third of all cases. The experts found that Cardinal Joseph Höffner, who died in 1987, was also accused of breaches of duty.
According to the information, the period between 1975 and 2018 was examined for the report by the law firm Gercke & Wollschläger. There were assaults and border violations by a total of 202 suspects, almost two thirds of whom were clergy. The number of victims is 314, of whom 178 are men and 119 are women. There was no gender information for 17 victims.
The report was presented on Thursday after months of debate. Archbishop Woelki had only commissioned it last October. It is the second draft for the Archdiocese – a first report by the Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) was initially not published as planned because Cardinal Woelki considers it to be inadequate. Critics therefore accused him of a lack of will to explain.
Woelki and his vicar general Markus Hofmann attended the presentation as guests. According to the Archdiocese, they did not yet know the content of the report. Woelki wants to comment on the consequences on March 23.
The complete report is to be published around 1 p.m. on the website of the Archdiocese of Cologne, after the Advisory Board has first received access to it. From March 25, those affected, journalists and other interested parties will have the opportunity to read the WSW report.
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