Münster’s Bishop Felix Genn refuses to resign

Münster’s Catholic bishop Felix Genn has admitted personal mistakes in dealing with cases of sexualised violence. Four days after presenting an independent abuse study for his diocese, he told journalists on Friday Muenster: “I myself should have acted differently in some situations.” At the same time, the 72-year-old pointed out that he had neither covered up sexual abuse nor put the interests of the institution above concern for those affected. Therefore, he does not want to resign and use his remaining term to take action against sexual abuse.

According to Genn, however, his deceased predecessors Reinhard Lettmann, Heinrich Tenhumberg and Michael Keller made “serious mistakes” in dealing with sexual abuse. “They were guided by an attitude that had the protection of the institution in mind, but not those affected.” It should be agreed with those affected by abuse how this bishop and other deceased officials should be thought. Until then, the bishop’s crypt in Münster Cathedral, which has been closed since Monday, will remain closed.

The former Münster vicar general and now retired Hamburg archbishop Werner Thissen also sees personal mistakes in dealing with cases of sexualized violence, according to Genn. He was in conversation with him about his title as honorary canon of Münster. In addition, Genn complied with the request of the retired clergyman Theodor Buckstegen to relieve him of his duties as canon. Buckstegen was the diocese’s head of human resources from 1986 to 2009.

Genn called it a mistake not to have cracked down hard enough on the accused in his early days in Münster. “I felt I was in the role between pastor and judge.” He also informed parishes insufficiently about abusers employed in them. In addition, as a former bishop of Essen, he had relied too much on the archbishopric there in the case of the multiple abuser H., who was transferred to Munich.

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