German archbishop offers resignation on return from timeout

National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

March 2, 2022

By Geir Moulson

A prominent Roman Catholic archbishop who faced strong criticism for his handling of the church’s sexual abuse scandal in Germany said Wednesday that he has offered his resignation to Pope Francis following a “spiritual timeout” granted by the pontiff.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, marked his return to work with a lengthy letter to the faithful in which said he was “not returning unchanged, as if nothing had happened in this time.”

Woelki has become a deeply divisive figure in the German church. In September, the Vatican said that Francis had decided to leave him in office but also give the cardinal the several-month timeout after he made what it termed “major errors” of communication.

In his letter to the faithful, Woelki said he has “reflected and meditated” repeatedly about his actions and the situation in the archdiocese.

He said that he has “made my service and my office as archbishop of Cologne available to the Holy Father, so that he is free to decide what best serves the good of the church.”