Gambling debts: Archdiocese of Cologne repays priest’s debts

panorama Outrage at the Archdiocese of Cologne

Paying a Priest’s Gambling Debts – “Shame on You”

Indignation in the Archdiocese of Cologne: the church took over a sum of 1.15 million euros for an indebted priest

Indignation in the Archdiocese of Cologne: the church took over a sum of 1.15 million euros for an indebted priest

Source: pa/Geisler-Fotopress/Christoph Hardt/Geisler-Fotopress

The Archdiocese of Cologne has paid a priest’s debts of 1.15 million euros – some of the money came from a kitty which is also used to compensate victims of abuse. The Advisory Council of the Episcopal Conference is furious.

IAs part of the settlement of a priest’s gambling debts, the Archdiocese of Cologne paid a total of 1.15 million euros from a special episcopal fund. She took over the clergy gambling schools for nearly 500,000 euros, which was paid out in installments in 2015 and 2016. Apparently the money was not taxed properly. Therefore, the archdiocese also paid a total of 650,000 euros in payroll tax, including interest.

The repayment of the debt, first reported by the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” and the WDR, sparked outrage. Some of the money was taken from the Archbishop’s “special needs” fund, which also supports victims of sexual abuse, among others. Johannes Norpoth, spokesman for the Advisory Council of the German Bishops’ Conference, called the process in the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” “disturbing and shameful”.

He linked the payments to the amounts of compensation for victims of abuse, which is only a fraction of that. Even in a revised system for recognizing victims of sexual violence, which now provides for amounts of up to 50,000 euros, 60% of claimants received less than 20,000 euros, according to Norpoth.

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“Victims of sex crimes, some without secure incomes like a priest, are defrauded of less than 2% of what the church has been willing to pay to compensate for a priest’s self-inflicted financial distress,” Norpoth said. . “If you then remember the justification it has been made with regard to community life, there is nothing left but to exclaim: Be ashamed of yourselves!”

According to the archdiocese, the process took place in the last years of former archbishop Joachim Meisner, but was supported by his successor Rainer Maria Woelki after he took office in 2014. The spokeswoman for the reform initiative Maria 2.0 Rhineland, Maria Mesrian, told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” that the “irresponsible financial conduct” shows “the deep downfall of Cardinal Woelkis and his management team”.

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The sexual abuse concerned is said to be “skimmed away with ridiculous sums, while millions are wasted on a superfluous university or on the private gambling debts of a priest”. An independent public inquiry commission is “the only way to ensure transparency,” Mesrian said.

As the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” wrote with reference to a person involved, the archbishop wanted to help the clergyman in an extraordinary mental emergency. The Archdiocese explained: ‘We assume that such a case can no longer occur today because we have learned from the case and the contact between the human resources department and the clergy is more intensive and better organized today. today.”

“Continued looting of the Archdiocese”

According to reports, the supervisory and control bodies of the archdiocese were not involved in the transaction. The diocese explained that no committee should be involved for this. Münster canon law professor Thomas Schüller contradicted this assessment. “It’s another looting of the archdiocese,” he told WDR. It is illegal for the archbishop to decide on such payments alone without involving the responsible bodies.

A particular norm of the German Episcopal Conference of 2002 stipulates that “liability for civil liability” is part of “acts of extraordinary asset management”. According to Schüller, the money for the needy priest should have been presented to the supervisory bodies. “The action of the diocesan leadership in this matter is clearly illegal,” Schüller told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”.

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