Pope accepts resignation of German bishop in sex probe

VATICAN CITY Sat May 8, 2010 8:06am EDT

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Saturday accepted the resignation of a German bishop who has been accused of sexually abusing minors, the latest in a string of Roman Catholic prelates forced to resign over an abuse scandal.

A Vatican statement said the pope agreed Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg in Bavaria should step down. He became the first bishop to quit in the pontiff's native Germany over the child abuse scandal that has rocked the Church in several European countries and the United States.

In recent weeks, a Belgian bishop resigned after admitting he had sexually abused a boy and three Irish bishops quit over their handling of sexual abuse cases.

German prosecutors and church officials said on Friday authorities were investigating accusations of sexual abuse by Mixa, who had already offered to step down after being accused of hitting children.

A spokesman for the diocese of Eichstaett said the accusations referred to a time between 1996 and 2000 when Mixa was bishop of Eichstaett, which like Augsburg is in predominantly Catholic Bavaria.

The Augsburg diocese said it had provided information to prosecutors after a meticulous examination of the accusations.

The Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper reported, without naming its sources, that Mixa was accused of abusing a boy while bishop of Eichstaett.

Mixa's lawyer, Gerhard Decker, has denied the accusations against the 69-year old bishop, who also faces allegations of financial misconduct, and said Mixa would work with prosecutors to clear up the matter.

Mixa wrote to the pope in April to offer his resignation, after denying for weeks that he had hit children in the 1970s and 1980s before later admitting he had slapped them. Some victims say he hit them with full force in the face.

The accusations against Mixa revealed on Friday were the first made of sexual abuse. He had previously asked for forgiveness from those he says he may have slighted.

A survey published last month found a quarter of Germany's Catholics were considering leaving the church over the abuse allegations, the greatest crisis in Benedict's five-year pontificate.

Belgian bishops concluded a week-long visit to the Vatican on Saturday with a rare press conference in which they spoke of the pain caused by the scandal which led to the resignation last month of the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe.

He stepped down after admitting he had sexually abused a boy when in charge of the diocese of Bruges, the first such case to be made public in Belgium -- although a church commission said it was investigating about 20 other allegations of sex abuse.

The Pope briefly referred to the case in his speech to the Belgian bishops, saying their church had been "tested by sin."

(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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Comments (19)
habu wrote:
The pope should step down also.

The sin was not the sin of commission and act of sodomy, the greater sin was the sin of omission the act of cover-up and transfer of the sodomite priests by their superiors. If there ever has been a case to be made that a churches should be taxed this is it. The Roman Catholic Church has been covering up this scandal for 40+ years and now after it hits them in the purse they are contrite. The whole hierarchy should spend their mortal life in jail and their eternal life according to their own teaching.

May 08, 2010 9:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Neal-P wrote:
Only 40 years? Why do you believe that priests didn’t start abusing children until 1970?

Revealing and publicly talking about child-abuse is a modern phenomenon, that may have started in the 1970’s. But the problem of abuse and cover-up goes back a lot longer, probably centuries.

I remember back in the 1980’s, some elderly people told me about abuse by the clergy that happened when they were children. As far as they knew, it was always that way, just too controversial to bring into the open.

May 08, 2010 10:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
owlafaye wrote:
The church will never let up in their attempt to garner favorable public opinion. Their apologists, flagellants, spin masters and even innocent and naive parishoners will continue to change the story to suit their wishes and desires.

In 300 years the Roman Catholic Church will refer to these times as one in which the church was falsely and malignantly attacked by atheists, non-believers, government and Satanic enemies of Christianity.

They will say:

“Against a massive effort to discredit the piety and chasteness of the clergy with accusations of heinous crimes, the church and her followers fought a protracted battle against this evil… eventually triumphing in the name of Jesus and to the greater glory of the mother church.”

These are long established criminals who have manipulated history and destroyed evidence from their beginning.

May 08, 2010 10:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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