Pope keeps German archbishop criticized over abuse scandal

BERLIN (AP) – Pope Francis has decided to leave in office a prominent German archbishop who has faced criticism for his handling of the church’s sexual abuse scandal, but the cleric has decided to take a several-month time out.

The Vatican said that the pope “is counting on” the archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. However, the archdiocese said Friday that Woelki asked for a “spiritual time out” from mid-October to the beginning of March, and that the pontiff granted it.

The aim is “to be able to think and to open space for confidence to grow again,” the statement added. Woelki has become a deeply divisive figure in the German church.