CNA Staff, Mar 18, 2021 / 06:05 am
It is probably the most comprehensive and transparent study ever commissioned by a German institution on the subject of sexualized violence against minors: The publication of the 800-page, independent Gercke Report today, March 18, is intended to clarify roles and responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Cologne. It was commissioned by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Cologne since 2014.
In January 2019, the archdiocese commissioned the Munich law firm 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 a cover-up allegation against him.
Woelki has been asked repeatedly to resign by journalists in recent weeks. He has also been sharply criticized by clerics and Catholic associations for his handling of abuse reports and cover-up allegations, according to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.