Cardinal Woelki must appear in court
Dhe Archbishop of Cologne Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki will have to appear in court for the first time for his behavior towards a priest accused of abuse. The district court of Cologne announced on Wednesday that it intends to hear the archbishop as the plaintiff in the press law proceedings that Woelki initiated against the “Bild” newspaper last year.
Woelki defends himself against the newspaper’s account that when Pastor D. was appointed deputy city dean of Düsseldorf in 2017, he knew that certain processes or processes related to abusive behavior were documented in the personnel file, including one Warning from the people of Cologne criminal police before further contact of the D. with children and adolescents.
Over the winter, the competent press chamber of the district court, chaired by judge Dirk Esser da Silva, heard two witnesses at the request of the defendant. The statements of the longtime secretary of Woelki’s predecessor Joachim Cardinal Meisner and Oliver Vogt, the “intervention officer” installed by Woelki in 2015, did not provide “complete proof” according to the Chamber.
Appointment is not yet scheduled
In fact, in September 2015, Woelki decided that Pastor D. had to be heard about possible sexually abusive behavior, as prescribed by the guidelines of the German Bishops’ Conference in the event that allegations had been made against a cleric.
At the beginning of September, the Archdiocese received another anonymous letter accusing D. of sexual misconduct. The intervention commissioner immediately brought together all the allegations and suspicions that had previously become known to the Archdiocese in relation to D. These were found to a very small extent in the personal file, but had accumulated over a period of more than twenty years in several layers of transmission. A compilation of the relevant records was immediately sent to the cardinal’s office, who decided on the basis of this document that D. should be heard.
Through his legal advisers, Woelki repeatedly denied that, with the exception of one incident in 2001, he had more than just rumors of the sexual past and sexual preferences of that priest before D.’s promotion. Now he himself has to answer questions in court as to whether he was aware of the “content of the disputed police report” and another protocol that the former head of personnel and later Vicar General Stefan Hess had prepared. A date for questioning the plaintiff cardinal in the proceedings 29 O 293/21 has not yet been set.