Church pays off debts but no compensation? Cologne Catholics enraged

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The repayment of huge debts run up by a Catholic priest in the archdiocese of Cologne from the same fund used to compensate sex abuse victims has provoked outrage among the faithful in the diocese.

The priest had incurred debts amounting to around 500,000 euros ($540,000), excluding interest and taxes.

The archdiocese had shown itself considerably less generous to the abuse victims, Johassen Norpoth, spokesperson for the council to the German Bishops’ Conference that assists the victims, told Saturday’s Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper.

He noted that after years of struggle, 60% of the victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests and other church employees, had received less than 20,000 euros.

“Victims of sexual abuse, some of them without a secure income like that of a priest, have been fobbed off with an amount less than 2% of what the church is paying out for a priest who has got into financial difficulties,” Norpoth said.

Maria Mesrian, a spokesperson for a regional Catholic reform initiative, described the move as irresponsible. Victims of sex abuse were being fobbed off with “ridiculous sums, while millions were being wasted on an unnecessary religious college or the private gambling debts of a priest,” she said.

The council has previously called for the dissolution of the religious college in Cologne, saying its financing was not sustainable.

The total costs to the archdiocese for paying off the priest’s debt came to 1.15 million euros including taxes and interest.

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