In a penance service at 11 a.m., the Archdiocese of Cologne wants to acknowledge the church’s guilt for sexual abuse by priests. The non-public service in Cologne Cathedral will be celebrated by the chairman of Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the apostolic administrator Rolf Steinhäuser. Woelki is on a break of several months.
Criticism of Cardinal Woelki’s absence
Steinhäuser wanted to be forgiven for the mistakes of the Archdiocese of Cologne, it said in a message. “With the penance service we confess our guilt to the Lord, but also to those affected. YOU have suffered immense pain and suffering through sexual violence, ”the auxiliary bishop is quoted as saying. The Advisory Board, in which victims of church abuse are organized, helped prepare the service.
“We are completely involved and glad that Auxiliary Bishop Steinhäuser is holding the service as the head cook of the Erzbis,” said spokesman Peter Bringmann-Henselder. It is important that the service takes place on November 18th, the “European Day for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse”.
Individuals affected had previously expressed criticism of the service. “The actual perpetrators, who die with their fists in the chest and repent, for example, die, are not there,” said former advisory board member Patrick Bauer of the dpa. It is also incomprehensible that the service now takes place in Woelki’s absence, of all places.
Pope recognizes “serious mistakes” in communication
The Archdiocese of Cologne is in a crisis. Woelki decided in 2020 not to publish an opinion on how diocese officials deal with allegations of abuse for the time being.
Pope Francis then had the situation in the archdiocese investigated by two authorized representatives. In September the Pope came to the conclusion that Woelki had “serious mistakes” in communication, but was allowed to remain in office. He is currently on a retreat – a spiritual reflection – in the Upper Bavarian diocese of Eichstätt.
In March 2021, the abuse report was published after all. In it, leaders of the Archdiocese such as Cardinal Joachim Meisner (1933-2017) and today’s Archbishop of Hamburg Stefan Heße are accused of breaches of duty in dealing with cases of abuse. (dpa)