After a search by the public prosecutor's office in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, those affected and church reformers hope for a "change of course".
"This is actually a remarkable action. Hopefully it is a sign that the judiciary is changing course in dealing with the church," said the spokesman for the "Eckiger Tisch" initiative for those affected, Matthias Katsch, of the German Press Agency. "Unfortunately, it comes too late for many of those affected."
"Churches have [...] enabled more crimes"
"The churches have tried for far too long to regulate everything within the church themselves. In doing so, they have repeatedly protected perpetrators and, above all, made further crimes possible," said Edgar Büttner, spokesman for "Wir sind Kirche" in Munich. "Against this background, it is only logical that the state judicial authorities have now carried out a search warrant against the ordinariate and official residence of the Archbishop of Munich, even if in this case it was more of a symbolic action," emphasized Büttner.
"It would have been good if this had happened in 2010 after the first Munich abuse report, which Cardinal Marx had drawn up but then kept under wraps."
According to information from the "Süddeutsche Zeitung", the Munich I public prosecutor's office made representations to the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising in mid-February with a search warrant. The action is said to be related to the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and possible cover-up allegations against diocese officials.
So far no comment from the Archdiocese
The archdiocese declined to comment yesterday when asked. The investigations were not directed against Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the newspaper writes. It is said to be about the case of a priest who has since died and whose actions are said to date back to the 1960s.
The public prosecutor's office pointed out that since the presentation of the sensational Munich abuse report in January 2022, they have been investigating whether "misconduct by church officials could have occurred". Spokeswoman Anne Leiding said: "As usual, we cannot provide any information on ongoing investigations, but we will probably approach the media with information at the end of the investigation."
The law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) had published the report on behalf of the archdiocese. The study assumes at least 497 victims and 235 alleged perpetrators - and a much larger number of unreported cases. "After the Catholic Church had been far too hesitant to come to terms with it, it became clear that the state had to intervene," said Büttner from "Wir sind Kirche".
The judiciary - especially in Bavaria - had repeatedly been criticized for leaving the church to deal with the abuse scandal by itself, not intervening and thus enabling cover-ups. After the action by the public prosecutor's office, canon lawyer Thomas Schüller spoke of a "turning point in the relationship between the state judiciary and the churches".