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