Around 50 pastors, parish officers and other officials of the Archdiocese of Cologne have distanced themselves in a statement from Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. “It is an incredibly dynamic development, many want to sign,” said school chaplain Dirk Peters on Monday in Cologne.

“We are outraged by the recent revelations about the cardinal’s and his staff’s communications strategy,” the statement said. Despite the greatest skepticism, some of them tried to start a dialogue with Woelkis after returning from a five-month break in early March. “With the PR strategies becoming known, however, Cardinal Woelki has used up his last trust.” The crisis in the archdiocese has now “reached an unimaginable low point”.

Woelki, who had been criticized for years, had hired a communications agency in 2020 that had drawn up plans for his “survival” in office. Among other things, the PR experts suggested that he should try to get the Advisory Board of Victims of Sexual Abuse on his side in a dispute over an unpublished report.

Such a strategy is unacceptable, criticized Ingrid Kloß, deputy diocesan chairwoman of the Catholic Women’s Community. But to implement them one-to-one is “not worthy of a Catholic Christian and certainly not of a cardinal”.