Vatican to investigate German archdiocese finances after cardinal returns from sabbatical
Cologne, Germany – The Vatican has announced an external audit of extraordinary spending in Germany’s largest Catholic archdiocese, which will begin after Cardinal Rainer Woelki returns from his sabbatical in March.
The review will examine whether there have been canonical problems in the awarding of contracts in the Archdiocese over the past ten years.
The Holy See sent a letter informing the apostolic administrator of Cologne, Auxiliary Bishop Rolf Steinhaeuser, of its decision. The letter indicates that the Congregation for Bishops of the Vatican has approved the investigation proposed by the leadership of the archdiocese in Woelki’s absence.
However, he added that the investigation should only be carried out when the Archbishop resumes his official duties from March 2.
The Archdiocesan Property Council and Cathedral Chapter had agreed with the Apostolic Administrator shortly before Christmas to investigate the awarding of contracts. The investigation will also examine older contracts after the first indications of possible canonical problems emerge.
The Archdiocese will now prepare the decision-making process for the external audit, which will also be responsible for recommending possible consequences.
The calls for an audit were triggered by the costs of two legal reports on the Archdiocese’s treatment of clergy sexual abuse and payments to communications consultants totaling 2.8 million euros (3.1 million euros). of dollars). This process has already been reviewed by two Church lawyers on behalf of the Vatican, and the result has been conveyed to Rome. These findings have not yet been published.
The handling of the abuse cases plunged the archdiocese into a crisis of confidence, and Woelki took a six-month sabbatical, starting in October.
Pope Francis had said after an investigation that Woelki had made mistakes in the area of communication, but had not tried to cover up any crimes. Steinhaeuser leads the archdiocese during Woelki’s absence.