Men of the cloth are not infallible. In fact, they are just as prone to sinful thoughts, and sometimes deeds, as the rest of us. In the case of the archdiocese of Cologne, the sins of a particular priest stirred public outcry after it transpired that the church had agreed to pay more than €1 million ($1.1 million) to settle his private gambling debts. This comes on top of the news that previously Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, shielded priests from investigations looking into their alleged sexual abuse.
No Need to Read the Bible to Know It’s Wrong
The gambling settlement story is doubly shocking when considering that the church agreed to settle the priest’s gambling debts, tapping into the money allocated to repaying the victim of the sexual abuse that impacted hundreds of individuals. An initial sum of €500,000 ($540,000) was first forwarded to settle the debts but a miscalculation left the church with a total of €650,000 ($700,000) in arrears to pay due to mistakes in submitting income tax.
People have blasted the church’s decision to settle a priest’s debts but show a considerably less generous attitude towards the victims of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the church itself. German Bishops Conference council Johassen Norpoth criticized the way the two issues had been handled. In fact, it had taken the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests years to get some form of justice and receive payments of barely €20,000 ($21,000).
Lack of Decisive Action Brings Fresh Criticism
Norpoth said that based on this, the church was only willing to pay victims of a crime 2% of what it would pay for a priest who has brought financial distress through their own lack of morality and ineptitude. While the immediate revelations of the sexual abuse scandal were followed by vows to never allow such behavior to take place in churches, the fact that the Catholic church has acted demeaningly towards victims and has shielded its own reinforces the opinion that the organization is hardly contrite.
Woelki, though, has been faced with scathing criticism over how he had handled the first reports of sexual abuse in Cologne, a shocking event that still has Pope Francis on the fence with no final decision about the archbishop’s future.