Two lawsuits, one success: Cardinal Woelki fights in court against "Bild"

The Cologne cardinal will have to put up with the fact that the media are diagnosing a "Woelki scandal" in the future.

Two lawsuits, one success: Cardinal Woelki fights in court against "Bild"

The Cologne cardinal will have to put up with the fact that the media are diagnosing a "Woelki scandal" in the future. In a second report, he was successful with his lawsuit against the Springer publishing house: according to the verdict, the sex of a priest with a prostitute cannot be described as "abuse".

The Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki was successful in court with a lawsuit against the media group Axel Springer - he failed with a second one. This was announced by a spokeswoman for the district court in Cologne. Woelki had taken legal action against certain reports in the "Bild" newspaper on the handling of cases of abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne because he saw his personal rights violated.

Among other things, there are two online reports about a pastor whom Woelki had promoted to deputy Düsseldorf city dean. The priest had had sex with a 16- or 17-year-old prostitute years earlier. According to the verdict, the press chamber prohibited, among other things, the designation "priest of abuse" because the priest had not committed any crime punishable under the Criminal Code. According to a statement from the Archdiocese, Woelki said he was "happy" about the court's decision. "This misreporting made me feel so violated in my personal rights, which a cardinal is also entitled to, that I simply had to take action against it."

In another case, however, the Chamber dismissed Woelki's claim. According to the verdict, "bild.de" was allowed to publish an article entitled "Because of the Woelki scandal - are all German bishops resigning?" publish. The term "Woelki scandal" is a permissible assessment of the fact that in the Catholic Church - also by the Pope - it had been openly communicated "that Woelki, in approaching the question of coming to terms with it, especially at the level of communication, made big mistakes," the court said in a statement. According to the Archdiocese, Woelki wants to go to the next instance.

Appeals against the judgments can be lodged with the Higher Regional Court of Cologne. Decisions in three other cases are still pending. The Archdiocese of Cologne has been in a serious crisis since Woelki decided in 2020 not to publish an expert opinion on how diocese officials deal with allegations of abuse. After a sabbatical, he returned to the Archdiocese in March. He has offered the Pope his resignation, but a decision on this is still pending.


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