According to experts’ opinion: Archbishop Heße resigns Pope | Free press


In an expert report, Archbishop Stefan Heße of Hamburg is accused of eleven dereliction of duty related to the handling of allegations of abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne. The Catholic Shepherd is now drawing conclusions under great pressure.

Hamburg (dpa) – After presenting expert advice on how to deal with allegations of abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne, Archbishop of Hamburg Stefan Heße offered the Pope his resignation.

“In order to avoid damage to the office of Archbishop and the Archdiocese of Hamburg, I offer to Pope Francis my resignation and ask him to immediately relieve him of my duties,” Heße said in a personal statement. The criminal lawyer Björn Gercke had accused the former head of staff of the Archdiocese of Cologne of eleven dereliction of duty. These include violations of the notification and information obligation.

In his role as Chief of Staff and Vicar General in the Archdiocese of Cologne, Heße faced allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests. So far, Heße has denied the allegations against him in any other context. “I have never taken part in a cover-up,” Heße said. But he is still willing to do his part in the failure of the system. He moved to Hamburg on March 14, 2015 as archbishop.

Gercke submitted an 800-page report on Thursday. The evaluation of the files from 1975 to 2018 showed, among other things, “that for decades no one apparently dared to report such cases,” he criticized.

After the presentation of the report, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki announced that he would temporarily discharge two employees from their official duties: Dominikus Schwaderlapp, former Vicar General of the Archdiocese and now Auxiliary Bishop, as well as Günter Assenmacher, as a civil servant responsible for ecclesiastical judicial affairs, among other things. Schwaderlapp announced that he had already resigned Pope Francis.

Woelki kept an initial report from a law firm in Munich under lock and key, for which he voiced legal concerns. Woelki’s behavior had caused a crisis of confidence in the largest German diocese.

Woelki was now expressly protected by Gercke. “In media terms, it would have been easiest for us to lead Mr. Woelki to the scaffold here,” said the criminal defense attorney. But there is no basis for this. Even in the Munich report withheld, Woelki was not charged.

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