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Düsseldorf cardinal suspended after sexual harassment allegations

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Düsseldorf cardinal suspended after sexual harassment allegations
Cardinal Ulrich Hennes, pictured here in 2005. Image: DPA.
09:15 CET+01:00
A prominent cardinal in Düsseldorf has reportedly been placed on leave due to an allegation that he sexually assaulted an adult clergyman in 2012.

The same cardinal was reportedly reinstated by the church after undergoing 'therapy' following similar allegations in the 1990s.

Cardinal Ulrich Hennes, who serves as the city dean for Düsseldorf, has been suspended from his role due to sexual assault allegations. 

SEE ALSO: Germany's Catholic Church addresses child abuse scandal amid protests

Archbishop of Cologne Rainer Maria Woelki placed the cardinal on compulsory leave due to the pending allegations, with RP Online reporting that the man underwent a church-administered ‘therapy' program in relation to the sexual molestation of a teenager in the 1990s. 

The report casts doubt on the effectiveness of the church's ability to self regulate and prosecute allegations against clergymen, particularly as a report completed at the end of the therapy process found that the Cardinal could return to work “without conditions”. 

A spokesman for the church said that Hennes was “committed to therapy, which was then completed” in the 1990s, with the church deciding to reinstate him to his position.  

Hennes denied the allegations to RP Online, while also confirming that he was not a flight risk. “I am innocent”, he said. “I have no reason to flee (Düsseldorf)”. 

Archbishop of Cologne Rainer Maria Woelki. Image: DPA

Archbishop Woelki said that Hennes was entitled to the presumption of innocence, but sought to reaffirm the church's commitment to tackle sexual misconduct in its ranks. 

"We do not tolerate any form of sexual assault and consistently follow the relevant instructions and suspected cases," says Cardinal Woelki.

As reported by The Local in March, the Catholic Church in Germany promised to urgently confront sexual abuse scandals amid allegations that victims had been “stonewalled”. 

SEE ALSO: German Catholic Church apologizes as scale of child abuse laid bare

The guidelines of the German Bishops Conference require that members of the clergy be suspended for the duration of the process after allegations have been made. 

Hennes was made city dean of Düsseldorf in 2016, a role which requires him to act as a representative of the bishop in the city. 

 

 

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