UCA News
Contribute

Pope orders visitation of German archdiocese

Pope Francis wants to examine the pastoral situation and handling of sexual abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Cologne
Pope orders visitation of German archdiocese

A view of Cologne Cathedral. (Photo: vaticannews

Published: May 31, 2021 06:13 AM GMT
Updated: May 31, 2021 06:16 AM GMT

Pope Francis has ordered an apostolic visitation "to obtain a comprehensive picture of the complex pastoral situation" in the Archdiocese of Cologne and to investigate how accusations of clerical sexual abuse were handled, the Vatican nuncio to Germany announced.

The pope asked Swedish Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm and Dutch Bishop Johannes van den Hende of Rotterdam to carry out the visitation, which include onsite visits in the first half of June, the note said.

In a short statement posted on the archdiocesan website, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, head of the archdiocese, said he had spoken to Pope Francis in February about tensions in the archdiocese over both the handling of allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the diocese and the cardinal's decision not to publish a report from a Munich law firm about how accusations were dealt with.

Instead, the cardinal commissioned a new report from a Cologne criminal lawyer and released it in March. The report cleared Cardinal Woelki of wrongdoing.

"I will fully support Cardinal Arborelius and Bishop van den Hende in their work," Cardinal Woelki said in his statement May 28, adding that he welcomes anything that would clarify the current situation.

Members of the archdiocesan council of laity also welcomed the visitation, Vatican News reported. The fact that Pope Francis has ordered the visit shows that he understands that "under the leadership Cardinal Woelki, contact between parishes and the archdiocese become difficult."

That is why we already have invited the visitators to our plenary meeting on June 16

"We as Catholic laity assume that the discussions with the visitators will of course be conducted with the diocesan leadership, employee representatives and lay representatives," the statement said. "That is why we already have invited the visitators to our plenary meeting on June 16."

The German Catholic news agency KNA reported Cardinal Arborelius and Bishop van den Hende also will look at possible failures in handling abuse cases made by Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hesse, who was personnel chief in Cologne starting in 2006 and was vicar general in Cologne from 2012 to 2015, the year he was named archbishop of Hamburg. Also under scrutiny are the Cologne Auxiliary Bishops Dominik Schwaderlapp and Ansgar Puff.

After the release of the abuse report in March, Archbishop Hesse and Bishop Schwaderlapp announced they had offered Pope Francis their resignations; Bishop Puff requested a suspension, which Cardinal Woelki granted.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia