After the publication of the report on sexual abuse by clergymen in the Archdiocese of Freiburg, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (84) returned his Federal Cross of Merit. The clergyman said that in a letter to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, reports Zollitsch’s spokesman. Zollitsch received the award in 2014 from the then Federal President Joachim Gauck. Reasons for the move were not disclosed.

Zollitsch was also chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference from February 2008 to March 2014. The abuse report published on Tuesday shows that his tenure in Freiburg until 2013 was characterized by “concrete cover-up behavior”. The 84-year-old had already admitted serious mistakes and personal guilt in a video in October. Even before the report was published, Zollitsch announced through the spokesman that he did not want to comment on the final report.

As the spokesman explained further, the old archbishop also renounced the privilege of being buried in the bishop’s crypt of the Freiburg Cathedral. He informed his successor in office, Stephan Burger. According to a statement, Zollitsch had “quietly not exercised his other episcopal privileges” for some time.