Pope Francis has ordered an apostolic visitation of Germany’s Cologne archdiocese amid fierce criticism of its handling of abuse cases.
The archdiocese said in a May 28 statement that the pope’s apostolic visitors would evaluate “possible mistakes” made by its leader, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki.
The apostolic visitors will be Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm and Bishop Johannes van den Hende of Rotterdam, president of the Dutch bishops’ conference, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.
“During the first half of June, the Holy See’s envoys will visit the archdiocese to get a comprehensive picture of the complex pastoral situation in the archdiocese,” the statement said.
It added that the visitors would also examine possible errors committed by Archbishop Stefan Heße of Hamburg, who was Cologne archdiocese’s vicar general from 2012 to 2015, and the Cologne auxiliaries Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp and Bishop Ansgar Puff.
Heße said in March that he was offering his resignation to Pope Francis and requesting “immediate release” from all duties.
Welcoming the apostolic visitation, Woelki said: “Already in February I informed the Holy Father in Rome comprehensively about the situation in our archdiocese.”
“I welcome the fact that with the apostolic visitation the pope wants to get his own picture of the independent investigation and the consequences of it.”
“I will support Cardinal Arborelius and Bishop van den Hende in their work with full conviction. I welcome every measure that will help to ensure accountability.”