Status: 02/23/2021 7:52 a.m.
The processing of cases of abuse brings the Catholic Church once again into need of explanation. Before the meeting of the German Bishops’ Conference, the authorities recorded a significant increase in people leaving the church.
When the German Bishops’ Conference meets from today, the pressure on the Church is greater than it has been for a long time. Recently, details from an opinion on abuse in the Catholic Church became public. The y show a terrifying picture.
Accordingly, there are more victims and more perpetrators in the Archdiocese of Cologne than previously known. According to “Spiegel”, the report by criminal lawyer Professor Björn Gercke contains, among other things, the case of a priest who was accused of sexual abuse in a boarding school in the archdiocese and was later appointed pastor and youth chaplain. In 2017, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki adopted him into retirement.
Many departures from the church
For more and more Catholics, the Cologne cardinal, who continues to withhold a first opinion, is intolerable. You are leaving the church. In the district court in Cologne, the phone is hardly still, they say. Minutes after the hotline for leaving the church with new dates was activated, it had to be closed due to overload. The rush was too great. Most recently, according to the district court, there were church resignations every quarter of an hour.
End of a painful process
Especially the elderly have a hard time with the church. For many like 63-year-old Wilfried Dohnen from Cologne, it was the end of a painful process. He was active in the Catholic Church all his life. He thinks it is important that the church stands up for refugees and the weak. But the abuse scandal and the way the church deals with the abused has shaken him to the core of his faith. “I was stunned that the people who decide our morals turned out to be unscrupulous.”
But seeing that dignitaries like Cardinal Woelki still did not allow systematic clarification, after all the cover-up and the thwarting of punishments, the barrel has overflowed. The fact that Woelki kept under lock and key the report he had commissioned to record those who had covered the abuse, makes the Cologne angry.
Resignation of Woelki called for
“ The Catholic Church is currently experiencing something like a meltdown,” explains Catholic theologian Thomas Schüller. “This is the greatest exodus of Catholics of all time. Strong believers are currently giving the church a red card, but the church still does not realize it,” says the canon lawyer. “If even the good shepherds of the church, the pastors, no longer support the slow enlightenment, then it amounts to a rebellion.”
At the end of the year, pastor Klaus Koltermann from Dormagen demanded the resignation of Cardinal Woelki. The reupon the General Vicariate threatened him that this could lead to measures. 34 pastors expressed their solidarity with Koltermann and described in an open letter their growing distance from the diocese leadership. The inner turmoil of many believers they experienced very similar, so the tenor.
Even a conversation with Woelki, which the pastor insisted on, could not dispel the pastors’ discomfort, says the Münster canon lawyer Schüller. Now the church representatives want to turn directly to Rome.
Delay in publication
The month-long delay in the publication of the abuse study in the Archdiocese of Cologne is a “tragedy,” says Schüller. In April 2020, the German Bishops’ Conference agreed to work with the Independent Commissioner for Questions of Child Sexual Abuse, Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, to ensure a comprehensive and independent review, including those affected.
Schüller assumes that dissatisfaction with Cardinal Woelki will be the dominant topic at the bishops’ conference. He knows from conversations with bishops that the mood is at a low point: “Many bishops are concerned that Woelki’s rigid stance to admit guilt rubs off on the entire Church. Young bishops in particular who have sought clarification fear that that they are placed under general suspicion as representatives of the Catholic Church. ”
Woelki will have to listen to a lot, says Schüller. For the first time, Georg Bätzing, the chairman of the Bishops’ Conference, had recently expressed himself critical of Woelki: “ The events in the Archdiocese of Cologne have led many to doubt the will of church authorities to provide unreserved clarification,” Bätzing said earlier this month.