The incident has sparked national and international controversy, with accusations of a cover-up by the police, media and politicians after investigations indicated many of the attackers were men who entered the country as refugees.
The local police have been inundated with accusations over the delay in informing the public about the attacks. They have also been criticized for supposedly holding back information about the nationality of the suspects.
German bishops also faced criticisms for their failure to respond in a timely manner.
In his Jan. 8 statement, Cardinal Marx warned that “these new forms of violence and especially the inhumane treatment of women cannot be tolerated” and he demanded that “all the different forces in society must work together to prevent this type of incidents and guarantee safety.”
“As a Church we are here to make our contribution to participate in a society that lives in mutual respect,” he stated.
The Cologne chief of police, Wolfgang Albers, lost his job over the controversy. He was dismissed Monday, Jan. 11.
A police report leaked to press noted that when he was arrested one of the suspects exclaimed “I’m a Syrian. You have to treat me well. Mrs. Merkel invited me,” referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In late November, Merkel was harshly criticized for promoting an open door policy for refugees, despite various security concerns. In 2015, the country took in more than 1 million asylum seekers, largely from North Africa and the Middle East.
In a statement to the BBC, Merkel described the attacks as “repugnant criminal acts” that Germany “will not accept.”
The German Chancellor demanded that “everything that happened there will be brought to the table.”
"We must examine again and again whether we have already done what is necessary in terms of deportations from Germany, in order to send clear signals to those who are not prepared to abide by our legal order."
Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker also came under fire for her response to the attacks, when she initially refuted the link to migrants and said that the city will be publishing “online guides” to help women and girls be “better prepared” when they go out at night.
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