Germany’s Munich archdiocese spent around $1.5 million on abuse report

The Frauenkirche, the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising The Frauenkirche, the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. | Thomas Wolf, via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0 de).

A report on the handling of abuse cases in Germany’s Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, published in January, cost around 1.45 million euros ($1.53 million).

The figure, reported by CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, is more than twice the amount that the Archdiocese of Cologne paid for a report by the same law firm.

A spokesperson for the Munich archdiocese said on May 19 that work on preparing the study by the law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl took nearly two years.

“In addition, there are further costs for the publication, especially the preparation and implementation of the press conference and the involvement of other experts by the law firm,” the spokesperson said.

The Munich study covered 1977 to 1982, the period that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, led the archdiocese, as well as the tenures of Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, who succeeded him, and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who has served as archbishop of Munich and Freising since 2007.

The more than 1,000-page report criticized the 95-year-old retired German pope’s handling of four cases during his time in charge of the southern German archdiocese.

The report also also faulted Marx’s handling two abuse cases. The 68-year-old cardinal told reporters in January 2022 that he intended to remain in office for now, but did not rule out seeking to resign for a second time.

Marx wrote to Pope Francis in May 2021, offering to resign amid the fallout from the clerical abuse crisis in Germany. The pope declined his resignation in June that year.

The Cologne archdiocese paid 757,500 euros ($857,000) for an initial report by Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, which Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, who has led the archdiocese since 2014, controversially declined to publish.

After lawyers advising the archdiocese raised concerns about “methodological deficiencies” in the study, Woelki commissioned the Cologne-based criminal law expert Professor Björn Gercke to write a new report, costing 516,200 euros ($584,000).

The 800-page Gercke Report, which was released in March 2021, covered the period from 1975 to 2018.

Pope Francis decided in September 2021 that Woelki should remain in charge of the Cologne archdiocese after a Vatican investigation into his handling of abuse cases.

More recently, the Vatican also ruled that Woelki did not breach canon law when awarding contracts connected to the Gercke Report.

Another German research project on clerical sexual abuse, the MHG Study, was presented by the German bishops in 2018. The study cost around one million euros ($1.06 million), according to figures provided by the German bishops’ conference.

One significant outcome of the MHG study was the “Synodal Way.” The costs of the controversial multi-year initiative are expected to run to several million dollars, though the exact amount remains a mystery.

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