Cologne: Archdiocese paid gambling debts from bankrupt priest – 1.15 million euros in damage!

The money came from a pot of money for abuse victims

Next scandal at Archdiocese of Cologne.

The church administration has released a total of 1.15 million euros for a priest – to pay his gambling debts!

The clergyman owed 500,000 euros, a spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed on Thursday. The gambled money was paid to him in several tranches in 2015 and 2016. The Archdiocese wanted to help the priest in an extraordinary emotional emergency.

The Archdiocese spokesman said that the checks then found that the donations were taxable. Subsequent taxation, including interest and a penalty payment, added another 650,000 euros.

Particularly fatal: part of the money comes from a special fund from which payments are made to victims of sexual abuse by church members.

First had the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” and the WDR reports on the gambling debt affair.

According to the Archdiocese, the process took place in the last years of the former Archbishop Joachim Meisner († 83), but was supported by his successor Rainer Maria Woelki (65) after he took office in 2014.

Former Archbishop Joachim Meisner (centre), who died five years ago, in 2007 with Chancellor Angela Merkel (67)

Photo: AP

Expert: Payment was illegal

According to the reports, the supervisory and control bodies were not involved in the approval of the payment from the special fund. It is therefore questionable whether the Archdiocese could simply take the money out of the till.

The Münster canon lawyer Thomas Schüller told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”: “The information provided by the Archdiocese shows a frightening lack of knowledge or ignorance of the relevant property law provisions.”

His conclusion: “The action of the diocese leadership in this case is clearly illegal.” The spokesman for the archdiocese said meanwhile that it was not necessary to involve the relevant bodies.

The archdiocese asserted: “We assume that such a case can no longer occur today because we have learned from the case and the contact between the human resources department and the clergy is more intensive and better organized today.”


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