There are far more perpetrators and victims of sexual harassment in the Archdiocese of Cologne than previously assumed. Specifically: 300 victims and 200 accused since 1975. These are the new figures, established over a period of several months of work by the Cologne carnist Bjoern Gercke, at the request of Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki.
Germany. Sexual harassment in the Archdiocese of Cologne.
WDR broadcasting and the weekly “Der Spiegel” in its online edition reported a much greater number of victims and perpetrators. The expert opinion of German bishops on this matter, presented in the fall of 2018, mentioned 135 victims of sexual violence and 87 clergymen accused of it on the basis of files from 1946 to 2015.
Gercke’s expertise is to be presented on March 18. “The figures in it are known because we’ve informed them about them before,” Gercke said on Saturday, February 20. It is noteworthy that they are much higher than those given in the earlier expert opinion of the German Bishops’ Conference.
According to the criminalist, there were several reasons for this: his expertise covers not only clergy, i.e. priests, deacons and bishops, but also ordained collaborators of the Archdiocese of Cologne of both sexes, as well as differences in the number of people suspected of harassment and the number of actual perpetrators of such acts.
The case of a certain clergyman. Accused of molestation in 2002. Only in 2017 he was “retired”
According to “Der Spiegel”, Bjoern Gercke’s study also includes the case of a priest who in the 1980s was accused of sexual harassment in a boarding school belonging to the Archdiocese of Cologne, and then worked as a youth chaplain. In 2002, he was accused of molesting a teenager, but it was not until 2017 that Cardinal Woelki retired.
The Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) was previously commissioned to carry out an expert opinion such as this. The document has been ready since March last year, but Cardinal Woelki has not published it yet. He only informed a few times through his press officer that the lawyers of the Archdiocese of Cologne had assessed it and found numerous errors in the method of examination.
The research period covered by this analysis also dates back to 1975 and covers the terms of cardinals Joseph Hoefner (from 1969 to 1987), Joachim Meisner (from 1989 to 2014) and Woelki (from 2014). According to the daily “Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger”, the Munich analysis mentions about 230 accused of sexual harassment and over 270 victims.
Cardinal Woelki has promised to conduct a thorough study of cases of sexual harassment by the clergy of the Archdiocese of Cologne, which has almost 1.9 million believers and is the largest diocese in German-speaking countries. In recent months, Cardinal Woelki has been increasingly criticized for, among other things, his silence on the expert opinion prepared by the Munich law firm.
“An unparalleled crisis of trust”
At the moment there is talk of an unparalleled crisis of confidence. Many believers accuse Cardinal Woelki of covering up sexual harassment. Apparently, Woelki does not exclude his resignation if the new expert opinion shows that he has neglected his duties.
In recent weeks, the number of applications for withdrawal from the Catholic Church has soared that the Cologne District Court has felt compelled to increase the number of online deadlines. Shortly after their launch on Friday, February 19, the court’s server refused to obey and crashed due to being overloaded with filings.
The article comes from Deutsche Welle.
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