Pope Francis confirms Cardinal Woelki in post after the apostolic visit of the German Archdiocese of Cologne | Catholic National Register


The Holy See noted that the Pope and Cardinal Woelki had “a long conversation” last week.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has decided that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki should remain in charge of the German Archdiocese of Cologne after a Vatican investigation into his handling of abuse cases, the Holy See said on Friday.

The Holy See said on September 24 that the pope had asked the 65-year-old cardinal to continue leading the archdiocese of West Germany following an apostolic visit, reported CNA Deutsch, the news partner in German language of CNA.

The statement explained that the investigation had found no evidence that Cardinal Woelki had acted illegally in connection with cases of abuse.

“Nonetheless, Cardinal Woelki also made major errors in his approach to the issue of resolving abuse as a whole, particularly at the level of communication,” he said.

“This has contributed significantly to a crisis of confidence in the Archdiocese which has disturbed many faithful.”

The Holy See noted that the Pope and Cardinal Woelki had “a long conversation” last week.

He said: “The Holy Father counts on Cardinal Woelki, recognizing his loyalty to the Holy See and his concern for the unity of the Church.

“At the same time, it is evident that the Archbishop and the Archdiocese need a time of pause, renewal and reconciliation. This prompted Pope Francis to grant Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, at his own request, a period of leave, starting in mid-October until the start of Lent next year.

“Until his return, [Cologne auxiliary bishop] Rolf Steinhäuser, as apostolic administrator sede plena [while the post remains filled, rather than vacant], will ensure good administration and, above all, that the Archdiocese, for its part, is in a spiritual process of reconciliation and renewal.

Pope Francis ordered the apostolic visit in May amid strong criticism of the archdiocese’s handling of cases of abuse.

The archdiocese said in a May 28 statement that the pope’s apostolic visitors would assess “possible mistakes” made by Cardinal Woelki.

The apostolic visitors were Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm and Bishop Johannes van den Hende of Rotterdam, president of the Dutch Episcopal Conference.

“During the first half of June, the envoys of the Holy See will visit the Archdiocese to obtain a complete picture of the complex pastoral situation in the Archdiocese,” the statement said.

He added that visitors would also examine possible mistakes made by Archbishop Stefan Heße of Hamburg, who served as Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cologne from 2012 to 2015, and the Cologne auxiliaries, Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp and Bishop Ansgar Puff. .

The Apostolic Nunciature in Berlin announced on September 15 that the Pope had asked Archbishop Heße to remain Archbishop of Hamburg in northern Germany.

Commenting on Schwaderlapp and Puff, the Holy See said on September 24: “In the case of the two bishops, there are isolated shortcomings in the handling of proceedings in their previous responsibilities, but no intention to cover up abuses or ignore the people involved. ”

“Bishop Ansgar Puff will immediately resume his regular ministry. Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp applied for permission to work for a year as a pastor in the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya, before resuming his ministry as Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Cologne. The Holy Father granted this request.

Cardinal Woelki said in December 2020 that he had asked Pope Francis to review the decisions he made regarding an accused priest – identified only as “Pastor O”. – in 2015.

Cardinal Woeki, who was appointed Archbishop of Cologne in 2014, has been called upon to resign since the Archdiocese controversially refused to publish a report by Munich law firm Westphal Spilker Wastl.

In January 2019, the Archdiocese tasked Westpfahl Spilker Wastl to review relevant personnel files from 1975 to determine “which personal, systemic or structural deficits were responsible in the past for hidden and undisclosed incidents of sexual abuse. punished consistently ”.

After lawyers advising the Archdiocese raised concerns about “methodological shortcomings” in the law firm’s study, Cardinal Woelki tasked Cologne-based criminal law expert Prof Björn Gercke to draft a new report.

The 800-page Gercke report was released in March. It covers the period from 1975 to 2018 and examines 236 cases in detail with the aim of identifying breaches and violations of the law, as well as those responsible for them.

In June, Pope Francis declined the resignation of another German Church leader, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising.

The 67-year-old cardinal wrote to Pope Francis in May, offering him to step down amid the fallout from the clergy abuse crisis in Germany.

Cardinal Marx is a member of the Pope’s Council of Cardinals and coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy. Until last year he was president of the German Bishops’ Conference.


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