IIn autumn 2023 it will be ten years since Franz Peter Tebartz van Elst rushed to Rome. Six months later the Bishop of Limburg was out of office. The Pope had had enough. Not because of the hopeless rift between a lying bishop and the majority of priests and church workers. Not because of the Catholics, who were leaving the Church in unprecedented numbers. Also not because of the sometimes exaggerated excitement curves in the media. No, the scion of a Lower Rhine large farmer spent more than 30 million euros for the construction of an extravagant bishop's house on the Limburg Cathedral Hill, which he was not allowed to dispose of.
Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki is not towered. Despite all allegations in connection with his handling of abuse cases and reports and all serious communication errors that Pope Francis attested to him, he has been Archbishop of Cologne for eight years now. But his days may soon be numbered. Although the financing of the "Cologne University for Catholic Theology" (KHKT), which he founded three years ago, is not secured, the rector of the university, Woelki's intimate Christoph Ohly, already informed the church accreditation agency in March, according to FAZ information AKAST claims the opposite. As Chancellor of the university, Woelki is directly involved in this decision. The statutes state: "The Rector informs the Grand Chancellor about the most important events." However, there are still no legally effective resolutions on future financing by the responsible bodies of the Archdiocese.
Archdiocese of Cologne: University is not financed from church tax funds
The new theological college was founded in the summer of 2019 by Archbishop Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki with the approval of the Vatican Congregation for Education. There theology should again develop “a greater radiance”, as the KHKT website says today. It should become a “social science” and lead to “evangelization”. The basic personnel and the church and state recognition were guaranteed by taking over the sponsorship of the Philosophical-Theological University (PTH) of the Steyler Missionaries in Sankt Augustin near Bonn.
Now all that was needed was money to set up the university. In November 2019, the property council of the archdiocese met. The head of the diocese assured the mostly skeptical laypersons that the financial risk for the archdiocese associated with taking over responsibility for the PTH in a gGmbH was low. Reason: The university would get by with grants of 1.2 million euros each for the first six years or a total of 7.2 million euros. However, this money would not be taken from church tax funds in the diocese budget, but from a pot of money called the BB fund at the exclusive disposal of the archbishop. This is more than well filled with a good 20 million euros.
Other bodies such as the Church Tax and Economic Council, the Economic Planning Committee, the Audit Committee and the Archbishop's Council received the same information from Woelki, his then Vicar General Markus Hofmann and Finance Director Gordon Sobbeck, who had moved from Limburg to Cologne. In minutes, excerpts of which are available to the FAZ and, according to the information provided by those involved, accurately reflect the state of affairs, it was also stated that the operation of the university would always be “net income-neutral” for the archbishopric. Only one protocol said that the running costs, which after the construction phase were in the order of eight to ten million euros a year, would “initially” not be offset by church tax money, but could be covered by “large donations and fundraising”.