published : 2023-09-23

Late German cardinal's statue to be removed over sex abuse claims

Franz Hengsbach's statue has stood outside Essen Cathedral since 2011

A black and white photo of Essen Cathedral, taken with a Nikon D850.

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.

German news agency dpa reported that a memorial for victims of sexual abuse will be created to take the place of the statue, which was erected in 2011.

An artistic image of a statue of Cardinal Franz Hengsbach, taken with a Canon EOS R.

The controversy around the statue, 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.

A poignant photo of a memorial for victims of sexual abuse, taken with a Sony Alpha A7 III.

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.