BERLIN — The Cardinal of Cologne in Germany has suspended two high-ranking officials named in a report on the church’s handling of accusations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, bringing an end to months of speculation about a matter that has led thousands in the area to sever their relationship with the church over the past year.
The report, released on Tuesday, found no wrongdoing by the cardinal, Rainer Maria Woelki. But an auxiliary bishop serving in the archdiocese and the head of its ecclesiastical court were both named in the 800-page review. It documents a “systematic cover-up” in the archdiocese’s handling of accusations of sexual abuse from 1975 to 2018, and the cardinal immediately announced suspensions for both men.
“As of today, it is no longer possible to say we had no idea,” Cardinal Woelki said after the release of the report — which he had not previously seen, but which said he had been fearing. “I am deeply moved and shamed by this, and I am convinced that for clerics, their actions must have consequences.”
None of those named were accused of criminal wrongdoing, although a copy of the report was sent to prosecutors in Cologne for review. Cardinal Woelki said a copy would also be sent to the Vatican.
a hotline for abuse, and had a bishop serving as its own commissioner on the issue.