VIENNA – A statue of late German Cardinal Franz Hengsbach will be removed from outside a cathedral in western Germany after allegations of sexual abuse against him surfaced, Catholic church officials said Friday.
A memorial for victims of sexual abuse will be created to take the place of the statue, which was erected in 2011, German news agency dpa reported, citing Thomas Zander, the dean of the cathedral of the city of Essen.
The move came after several hours of closed-door deliberations.
The controversy around the statue, which is located just outside Essen Cathedral, was sparked on Tuesday when the German Dioceses of Essen and Paderborn announced that they had started investigations into at least three sexual abuse allegations brought against Hengsbach.
Two allegations date back to the 1950s and 1960s. The first case alleges that Hengsbach abused a 16-year-old girl in 1954 while he was still an auxiliary bishop in the German city of Paderborn. The second case dates back to 1967 when he allegedly assaulted another woman during his time in Essen when he was already a bishop.
The latest allegations were made by a third victim in October 2022.
Hengsbach founded the Diocese of Essen in 1958 which he led until his death in 1991 at age 80.