Enterprise-Record (Chico)

Top German bishop laments ‘scandalous’ image of church

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The head of the German Bishops’ Conference said Thursday that the country’s Roman Catholic church is suffering from a “scandalous image” amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy, but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue.

The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commission­ed on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse.

Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm. He has commission­ed a new report, which is supposed to be published March 18.

There has been criticism within the German church of Woelki.

The head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing,

has described the crisis management in Cologne as a “disaster” but said earlier this week that the conference has no “sovereignt­y” to intervene.

After a regular meeting of the country’s bishops, Baetzing said Thursday that they take the effects on the church “very seriously.”

A Cologne court this 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.

“Every person who leaves the church hurts, and we perceive it as a reaction to a scandalous image of the church that we are currently delivering,” Baetzing said at a news conference.

 ?? SASCHA STEINBACH — POOL ?? The chairman of the Catholic German Bishops Conference, Cardinal Georg Baetzing, speaks to the media during a press conference following an online meeting of the organizati­on in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday.
SASCHA STEINBACH — POOL The chairman of the Catholic German Bishops Conference, Cardinal Georg Baetzing, speaks to the media during a press conference following an online meeting of the organizati­on in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday.

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