BERLIN — The head of the German Bishops’ Conference expressed doubts Saturday that the planned return of Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki as archbishop of Cologne following a “spiritual timeout” will help the diocese overcome a crisis sparked by the church’s handling of sex abuse allegations.

Bishop Georg Baetzing, who chairs the Bishops’ Conference, expressed concerns “whether a real fresh start can happen there.”

“That’s needed to overcome the crisis that occurred there,” he added.

Pope Francis last year granted Woelki leave until early March after criticism over his decision not to publish an independent report into allegations of sexual abuse in the church.

Baetzing spoke at the end of a meeting of the synodal gathering of German Catholics, which also discussed reforms that could lead to women performing sacraments in the future.