Cardinal's PR strategy "inhuman and reprehensible"
Victims of abuse sharply criticise Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki's public relations strategy.
The Victims' Advisory Council of the German Bishops' Conference reacts with indignation to a publication on the PR strategy of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki for dealing with victims of sexualised violence.
"The Archdiocese of Cologne and above all its archbishop have instrumentalised their own victims' Advisory Council for profane purposes," said Advisory Council spokesman, Johannes Norpoth.
"In an almost inhuman manner, they have exposed those affected to a massive risk of re-traumatisation with their eyes open."
The German Bishops' Conference's Advisory Council for Victims of Sexualised Violence reacts with indignation to a publication on Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki's PR strategy for dealing with victims of sexualised violence. "The Archdiocese of Cologne and above all its archbishop have instrumentalised their own victims' Advisory Council for profane purposes. In an almost inhuman manner, they have exposed the victims to a massive risk of re-traumatisation," said Johannes Norpoth, spokesman of the Advisory Council, to the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger". Such behaviour is "equally shameful and reprehensible".
The newspaper had reported on internal documents from Woelki's PR consultants. According to the report, the experts advised the Cardinal and his then Vicar General, Markus Hofmann, among other things, to bring the Victims' Advisory Council of the Archdiocese into line with them in view of the change of experts for the reappraisal study in October 2020.
Accusation of instrumentalisation "fully confirmed".
The experts are said to have given tips on how to achieve the goal and convince those affected. Later, several members of the Victims' Advisory Council withdrew from the committee. They had been taken by surprise when the change of expert was approved and felt abused a second time.
Norpoth recalled that these affected persons had already raised the accusation of instrumentalisation at that time: "Contrary to all previous denials from the Archdiocese, these accusations have now been fully confirmed by the latest details."
"Protection of the institution still worth more"
The Advisory Council spokesman also criticised a "disproportion" between the expenses for "self-protection of the Archdiocese and its bishop" and the compensation payments for those affected: "Once again it becomes more than clear: the protection of the institution and dignitaries is worth more to this Church than the financial recognition of the suffering that those affected by acts of abuse, cover-ups and obstruction of justice have to bear to this day."
Norpoth also called for bishops to be relieved of the responsibility for working with victims and coming to terms with the past and for this to be placed in independent hands. With the creation of suitable and above all independent structures, the Bishops' Conference could then actively participate in coming to terms with the past, prevention and compensation for damages: "But precisely as an organisation of perpetrators without influence and power over contents and employees and over study results and their publication."
Concerned Haucke: Woelki and others responsible must go
One of the members who left the Cologne Advisory Council after the change of experts is Karl Haucke. In view of the new report on Woelki's PR strategy, he demanded his resignation.
According to Haucke, the Cardinal had used those affected for his own interests. This was connected with humiliation and powerlessness - just like the acts of abuse themselves.
He called for further personnel consequences at the level of middle management in the archdiocese. For example, the Intervention Centre had apparently only looked on during the implementation of the PR strategy.