Report on Catholic church abuse to be released in Germany


COLOGNE, Germany — A highly anticipated report commissioned by the Cologne archdiocese on church officials’ handling of past cases of sexual abuse by clergy is set to be released Thursday.

Cologne’s archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, has infuriated many local Roman Catholics by keeping a first report on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse under wraps for months.

The cardinal has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm. The new report, by a different lawyer, is supposed to be published later Thursday.

There has been fierce criticism in recent weeks within the German church.

The head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing, last month described the crisis management in Cologne as a “disaster,” but said that the conference has no “sovereignty” to intervene.

A Cologne court last month announced that it was raising the number of appointments available for people seeking to formally leave the church to 1,500 from 1,000 starting in March, amid strong demand.

Revelations about past sexual abuse have dogged the church in Germany and elsewhere for years.

In 2018, a church-commissioned report concluded that at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. More than half of the victims were 13 or younger when the abuse took place, and nearly a third of them were altar boys.

In January, a new system drawn up by the church to compensate abuse survivors took effect. It provides for payments of up to about 50,000 euros (nearly $60,000) to each victim. Under a previous system in place since 2011, payments averaged about 5,000 euros.

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