BERLIN — A scandal centering on sexual abuse allegations towards a long-deceased cardinal has created a “very tough state of affairs” for the troubled Catholic Church in Germany, a prime German bishop stated Monday, hours after a statue of the late cleric was faraway from its perch exterior Essen Cathedral.
The accusations towards Cardinal Franz Hengsbach, who died in 1991, added to a long-running scandal over abuse by clergy that has shaken the German church.
Final week, the Essen diocese stated there have been suspicions that Hengsbach could have abused a 16-year-old woman within the Nineteen Fifties when he was an auxiliary bishop in close by Paderborn, and that one other individual — in accordance with German information company dpa, additionally a lady — additionally accuses him of abusing them in 1967, when he was bishop of Essen.
In a letter to parishes launched on Friday, Essen’s present bishop, Franz-Josef Overbeck, apologized for his errors in dealing with the allegations.
He stated he had heard concerning the first accusation in 2011 however did nothing after the Vatican decided that it was not believable. “I have to now admit that the accusations had been misjudged in 2011 and that these affected had been wronged,” he wrote. The later abuse allegation — which the diocese says was made final October and got here to Overbeck’s consideration in March — led church officers to dig deeper this yr.
Church officers selected Friday to take away the larger-than-life statue of Hengsbach, which was unveiled in 2011. On Monday morning, a crane lifted it onto a truck. It’s to be put in storage.
The Essen diocese final week known as on the trustworthy to return ahead with any additional abuse allegations. On Monday it stated that some new studies had are available and can be reviewed, dpa reported. Hengsbach was the bishop of Essen from the diocese’s basis in 1958 till 1991. He was made a cardinal in 1988.
In 2018, a church-commissioned report concluded that not less than 3,677 individuals had been abused by clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. Greater than half of the victims had been 13 or youthful, and almost a 3rd served as altar boys.
The Hengsbach allegations grew to become public shortly earlier than an everyday autumn assembly of the German Bishops’ Convention, which opened on Monday. He’s the highest-ranking German cleric towards whom such accusations have emerged.
“It is a actually very tough state of affairs, not only for the bishop of Essen and the entire Essen diocese, however for us as an entire,” the convention’s chairman, Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing, instructed reporters in Wiesbaden. “However I say that every thing have to be placed on the desk — the reality have to be placed on the desk; that’s the solely strategy to do proper by these affected.”
Baetzing stated that “the uncertainty for the trustworthy on this diocese, should you take a look at what a excessive pedestal this man stood on as its founding bishop … can’t be in contrast with something.”
The pinnacle of an influential lay group, the Central Committee of German Catholics, underlined why the case deepens the church’s issues.
“The suspected acts and the cover-up technique of the church that has as soon as once more been documented destroy what confidence stays,” Irme Stetter-Karp stated in a press release. “As soon as once more, the impression arises that the perpetrators, and never these affected, had been protected.”