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German archbishop ‘disappointed’ by diocese employees’


Nepalnews
AP
2023 Aug 20, 18:02, BERLIN
People line up in front of the Cologne Cathedral for free food at a nearby food bank in Cologne, Germany, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. The archbishop of Cologne, one of Germany’s most important Catholic dioceses, on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023 expressed disappointment that employees used work computers to try to access pornographic websites. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

The archbishop of Cologne, one of Germany’s most important Catholic dioceses, expressed disappointment Friday that employees used work computers to try to access pornographic websites.

The statement from Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki came after the city’s Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper reported that a list from the archdiocese showed more than 1,000 attempts to access such sites from its computers. It said that dozens of employees, including senior clerics, had made such attempts.

The archdiocese confirmed the existence of a list. It said that its IT service provider routinely checks whether its firewalls fend off attempts to access sites with risky content such as violence, pornography and drugs, and that they are not meant to check individuals’ usage habits.

It said that the check turned up “no indications of criminally relevant behavior.”

“It disappointed me that employees tried to access pornographic pages with the help of devices that our archdiocese made available for their work — even though the firewalls kicked in,” Woelki said.

“To some, the consumption of pornography may appear harmless,” he added. “But I agree with Pope Francis, who condemns it and warns of its dangers, in particular the violation of human dignity.”

The archbishop said he asked for the incidents to be examined as soon as he heard of them. He added that the archdiocese has many “committed and reliable” employees.

The archdiocese said its internal investigation had shown that Woelki himself wasn’t one of the “users of incriminated sites,” German news agency dpa reported.

Cologne prosecutors told dpa that they have the archdiocese’s list and are examining it, but so far there is no suspicion of any crime and no investigation.

The issue came to light as the archdiocese experiences an unprecedented crisis of confidence centering on Woelki, a conservative who has become a divisive figure in the German church.

In 2020, Woelki kept under wraps a report he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse, citing legal concerns and infuriating many local Catholics. A second report, published in March 2021, found 75 cases in which high-ranking officials neglected their duties.

The report absolved Woelki of any neglect of his legal duty with respect to abuse victims. He subsequently said he made mistakes in past cases involving sexual abuse allegations.

Two papal envoys were dispatched to Cologne to investigate possible mistakes by senior officials in handling cases. Their report led the Vatican to give Woelki a “ spiritual timeout ” and criticize major communication errors.

In March 2022, after his return, the archbishop said he had submitted an offer to resign. Francis hasn’t yet acted on it.

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archbishop of Cologne Catholic dioceses IT service Violence pornography drugs violation of human dignity
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