CNA Staff, Mar 18, 2021 / 06:00 am
A German cardinal facing calls to resign on Thursday welcomed the release of a long-awaited report on the handling of abuse cases in his archdiocese.
In an interview with CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said that the publication of the independent report on March 18 “established clarity about the past.”
“At the same time, I am saddened and affected by what we have heard about the misconduct that has been identified,” he said.
Woeki, the archbishop of Cologne since 2014, has faced calls to resign after the archdiocese controversially declined to publish another report, by the Munich law firm Westphal Spilker Wastl.
The 64-year-old cardinal has also been sharply criticized by clerics and Catholic associations for his handling of abuse reports and cover-up allegations.
In January 2019, the archdiocese commissioned Westpfahl Spilker Wastl to examine relevant personnel files from 1975 onwards to determine “which personal, systemic or structural deficits were responsible in the past for incidents of sexual abuse being covered up or not being punished consistently.”
After lawyers advising the archdiocese raised concerns about “methodological deficiencies” in the law firm’s study, Woelki commissioned Cologne-based criminal law expert Professor Björn Gercke to write a new report.
Woelki also asked Pope Francis in December 2020 to review the decisions he took regarding an accused priest -- identified only as “Pastor O.” -- in 2015.