After five months of investigation, hundreds of alleged child abusers and victims have been identified in an 800-page independent report on abuse in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, spanning decades.
According to the investigation, as many as 243 members of the clergy and laity were identified as abusers of minors, with around 50% of the incidents – between 1946 and 2018 – involving sexual violence and 55% involving children under the age of 14. Over 300 victims – the majority male and abused before 1975 – were also identified.
At least two clergymen will be dismissed from their positions following the report and several “high-up church figures” are accused of breaching their duty and attempting to cover up the allegations.
The Archdiocese of Cologne commissioned German law firm Gercke Wollschläger for the report, which was compiled over 5 months through interviews with those involved, after being accused of suppressing previous reports on historical child abuse.
Cardinal Rainer Woelki said the incidents reported “affect” him “deeply,” and added, “Clergymen are guilty of inflicting violence on people entrusted to them, and in many cases without being punished for it.”
He said that it was “even worse” that many of “those affected by this violence” had struggled to be “taken seriously and protected,” before calling the initial handling of allegations a “cover-up.”
The first results and official “consequences of the report” will be formally presented on March 23rd.
Back in February, German nuns belonging apparently to the same Catholic Archdiocese of Cologne were accused of having “rented” orphan boys to businessmen and clergymen in the ’60s and ’70s for “gang bangs and orgies”, according to a report seen by media that was withheld from the public.