Archdiocese of Cologne pays priest’s gambling debts in millions

Church criticized
Archdiocese of Cologne settles priest’s gambling debts by millions – ‘shameful’

The reform movement “We are Church” protests against the return of Cardinal Woelki with banners and placards in front of Cologne Cathedral. The gambling debt scandal has sparked a new wave of criticism.

© Thomas Banneyer / Picture Alliance

After the Archdiocese of Cologne settled a priest’s gambling debts, the criticisms rained down. The spokesman for the Advisory Council of the German Bishops’ Conference called the incident “disturbing” and “shameful”.

The Archdiocese of Cologne paid more than a million euros for an over-indebted priest. According to a spokesperson for the diocese, the clergyman has accumulated 500,000 euros in gambling debts. In order to help him out of this acute need, they wanted to repay the sum in several installments.

However, the donations were taxable, as revealed by a thorough legal review. Subsequent taxes plus interest increased the total by another EUR 650,000.

The Archdiocese of Cologne takes money from special funds

Part of the funds were taken from a special fund from which payments to victims of sexual abuse are also made. The payroll tax payment plus interest, on the other hand, was paid from the archdiocese’s personnel costs budget, said spokesman for the Advisory Council of Affected Persons of the German Bishops’ Conference, Johannes Norpoth. , the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”.

Poster on which one can read the allegations against the Archdiocese of Cologne

The actions of the Archdiocese of Cologne have sparked a wave of protests

© Thomas Banneyer / Picture Alliance

It sparked heavy criticism from wide swaths of the church, with the archdiocese posting far less generous amounts going to victims of sexual assault. Survivors of sexual violence in the church have struggled for years for real recognition of their suffering, Norpoth said. 60% of applicants received less than 20,000 euros. “Victims of sex crimes, sometimes without a secure income like a priest, are handed less than two percent of what the church was willing to pay to compensate for a priest’s self-inflicted financial hardship,” he said. he criticized.

Archdiocese of Cologne under fire from critics

Spokesperson for the Maria 2.0 Rheinland reform initiative, Maria Mesrian, spoke of irresponsible financial conduct. Victims of sexual abuse are said to be “swindled out of ridiculous sums of money, while millions are wasted on a superfluous university or on a priest’s private gambling debts”, she told the newspaper.

As the “Spiegel” reports, the supervisory and control bodies of the Archdiocese of Cologne were not included in the decision on the sum of one million, which, according to the spokesman of the diocese, does not would not have been necessary. “The information provided by the archdiocese shows a lack of knowledge or appalling ignorance of the relevant provisions of property law,” Münster canon lawyer Thomas Schüller commented on the proceedings.

Sources: German Press Agency, “Der Spiegel”


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