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“Declaration of moral bankruptcy”: Sharp criticism of Cardinal Woelki

Updated on 08/09/2022 at 12:10 p.m

  • According to media reports, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne spent 820,000 euros on PR advice.
  • Apparently he was concerned with ensuring his “survival in office”.
  • Catholic officials from the region have reacted with sharp criticism: they are facing a “low point in the archbishopric’s crisis”.

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Three Catholic regional leaders in the Archdiocese of Cologne have sharply criticized Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. If new allegations against him apply, “we are probably facing a new low point in the crisis of the Archdiocese of Cologne,” said Bonn City Dean Wolfgang Picken on Tuesday.

The “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” reported last week that PR consultant Woelkis had drafted plans for his “survival” in office at the height of the dispute over the processing of the abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Cologne at the end of 2020. It was already known that Woelki spent 820,000 euros on PR advice.

Cardinal should rely on “emotions, credibility and authenticity”.

According to the report, the communications experts suggested that the Advisory Board of Victims of Sexual Abuse be brought to his side in the dispute. Those affected should therefore support his decision not to publish an initial report on how diocese officials deal with allegations of sexual abuse of children due to legal concerns. According to the PR consultant, Woelki should rely on “emotions, credibility and authenticity”.

Picken asked Woelki to comment on the newspaper report immediately. “If Cardinal Woelki really implemented the recommendations made by his PR consultants, this could irreparably damage the cardinal’s integrity and would be difficult to tolerate,” said Picken.

The Cologne city dean Robert Kleine wrote in a Facebook post that if the description is correct, it would be tantamount to “a moral declaration of bankruptcy by the diocese leadership to the advisory board and all those affected”. In view of the resonance and explosiveness, he cannot understand “and certainly not accept” that the archdiocese does not want to comment on the confidential paper at the moment.

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Pope had accused Woelki of “big mistakes”.

Wuppertal city dean Bruno Kurth also asked Woelki to explain himself. “Not much remains of the new beginning in the archdiocese that was promised after our archbishop’s return from the break,” Kurth criticized in a statement. “We are facing another low point in the crisis of loss of credibility and trust. The reputation and office of the Archbishop of Cologne and thus the Archdiocese of Cologne have been further damaged.”

Woelki was sent on a five-month sabbatical by Pope Francis last year. The pope had accused him of “big mistakes”, especially in his communication in connection with the unpublished abuse report. At the beginning of March, Woelki resumed his official duties. However, he had to submit a resignation request, which the Pope has yet to decide on. (dpa/fab)
© dpa

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After a five-month break, Rainer Maria Woelki is back in his office as Archbishop of Cologne, albeit on probation. 92 percent of the faithful of the Archdiocese are calling for the resignation of the 65-year-old. The background is the handling of the abuse of wards in the Catholic Church and an expert opinion on it.

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