Investigators have searched several premises of the Archdiocese of Cologne. As announced by the public prosecutor and the police in the cathedral city, the searches were related to investigations into Cologne Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki for allegations of perjury.
The investigators searched rooms in six locations – in Cologne as well as in Kassel and in Lohfelden in Hesse. Rooms of the General Vicariate, the Official Office and the Archbishop’s House were searched. In addition, the investigators also searched the business premises of a service provider who manages e-mail traffic in the Archdiocese of Cologne.
“Measures were largely based on cooperation”
The measures were taken without incident and were largely met with cooperation at the respective search locations,” the Cologne public prosecutor’s office said. 30 police officers and four public prosecutors were involved in the operation.
The aim was therefore to confiscate written documents and communications in the Archdiocese of Cologne that are related to allegations of false affidavit and perjury against Cardinal Woelki. The matter is about when Woelki had knowledge of two documents that incriminate a priest promoted by him because of allegations of abuse. It was the former Sternsinger boss Winfried Pilz, who died in 2019.
The public prosecutor’s office expressly emphasized that the search was about pursuing an initial suspicion. Woelki is in no way accused of actively or even passively covering up or even participating in acts of abuse.
Cardinal against the “Bild” newspaper
The cardinal defends himself – also in the form of an affidavit – against the representation of the “Bild” newspaper that he was aware of a police warning about the use of mushrooms in youth work when he was promoted in 2017, as well as a protocol of a conversation with allegations by a man.
The public prosecutor had expanded their ongoing investigations into Woelki in May. The background to this is the criminal complaint filed by a private individual after the archbishop’s sworn statements in the press law proceedings against the “Bild” newspaper before the Cologne district court. The cardinal has denied all allegations.
sti/bri (afp, dpa, epd, kna)