In the case of the Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Irme Stetter-Karp, called on Pope Francis to act. “I find it worrying that Rome is still waiting and waiting to see the situation in Cologne,” Stetter-Karp told the Rheinische Post.
Woelki’s five-month break from the beginning of October last year to the beginning of March this year did not pacify the largest German diocese, Stetter-Karp said. That has been abundantly clear since the beginning of August at the latest. “Now it says: If the Vatican does not act, the Archdiocese of Cologne will hit the wall.”
At the beginning of August it became known that Woelki, who had been criticized for years, had hired a communications agency in 2020 to draw up plans for his “survival” in office. Among other things, the PR experts suggested that he get the Advisory Board of Victims of Sexual Abuse on his side in a dispute over an unpublished report.
In fact, the Advisory Board was then persuaded to support Woelki’s line. However, Woelki’s deputy, Guido Assmann, has denied any instrumentalization of the advisory board.
Pope Francis has been pondering the question of whether to accept Woelki’s resignation for months. Francis asked Woelki to submit this request.
Big protest action against the cardinal
Many employees of the Archdiocese of Cologne have joined a protest call against Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki and the diocese leadership. On Tuesday afternoon, the list had 79 signatories, as co-initiator and community officer Marianne Arndt told the Catholic News Agency (KNA).
According to the initiators, many other people, for example from communities, would like to sign the open letter. However, it was decided not to take them up any further, but to encourage people to develop their own ideas.
In the statement, the church workers call for a fresh start in the Archdiocese of Cologne with “personal and systemic changes”. Archbishop Woelki had used up his last trust. “The crisis has now reached an unimaginable low point,” it said.