Cardinal Rainier Maria Woelki of Cologne, who has come under fire for his handling of sex-abuse complaints, has submitted his resignation—for the second time.German Cardinal Woelki resigns—again | News Headlines | Catholic Culture
The embattled cardinal is one of the leading critics of the “Synodal Path” initiative, in which the German bishops’ conference has proposed dramatic changes in Church doctrine and discipline.
Cardinal Woelki offered to resign last year, but when Pope Francis declined to accept the resignation, took a leave of absence from his office beginning last September. Upon returning to his post on March 2, he promptly offered his resignation again. Pope Francis asked the German prelate to remain in place while he decides whether or not to accept this resignation.
The cardinal became a focal point for criticism when he declined to allow publication of a report into the handling of sex-abuse complaints in the Cologne archdiocese. He commissioned a sweeping new report, which was released in March 2021. The report found ample evidence that archdiocesan officials—including previous archbishops—had covered up evidence of abuse.
The report was critical of previous archbishops of Cologne, including Cardinals Joseph Höffner and Joachim Meisner. Although it found no evidence that Cardinal Woelki had covered up crimes, it concluded that the had “contributed significantly to a crisis of confidence” among the faithful.
Cardinal Woelki has received very little support—and a good deal of public criticism—from other German prelates. He has clashed frequently with his colleagues in recent months, criticizing the radical suggestions advanced by a majority of German bishops as part of the “Synodal Path.”