11 Dec 2010

German bishop who resigned for slapping kids says his superiors tricked Pope with false sex abuse allegations

Washington Post - Reuters June 17, 2010

Disgraced German bishop stirs messy Catholic row

By Tom Heneghan | Washington Post Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - A messy dispute has broken out in Germany's Catholic Church after a bishop accused of abusing minors said his superiors had tricked Pope Benedict into retiring him and he might ask the Vatican to be reinstated.

Bishop Walter Mixa, who quit in April after admitting he had slapped children decades ago, said fellow bishops conspired to force him to tender his resignation and used a flimsy allegation of sexual abuse as a "trump card" to get Benedict to accept it.

The bishops concerned flatly denied the accusations and hinted that Mixa, 69, who had stayed briefly in a psychiatric clinic after leaving his post in the Bavarian city of Augsburg, needed more rest and possibly more treatment.

The dispute put an embarrassing spotlight back on the sexual abuse crisis that rocked the German Church earlier this year but had since slipped from the headlines. It also prompted comments from churchmen that one newspaper described as "not Christian."

"Bishop Mixa is acting really foolishly," Rev. Eberhard von Gemmingen, former head of Vatican Radio's German service, told ZDF television on Thursday.

"It's very stupid to play this up in public," he said, "He's lost touch with reality ... he's a sick man and it's silly to make so much noise about him."

Mixa said in an interview on Wednesday that two archbishops -- Robert Zollitsch and Reinhard Marx, heads of the German and Bavarian bishops conferences respectively -- had tricked Benedict into accepting his resignation by passing on unsubstantiated allegations that he had sexually abused minors.

"The rumor was baseless, as the (Augsburg) prosecutor's office confirmed after looking into it," he told the daily Die Welt. "They should not have cornered the pope like this."


In recent months, three Irish bishops have stepped down for mishandling sexual abuse cases and a Belgian bishop quit after admitting he had sexually abused boys.

Mixa was the first German bishop to resign, but he did so over allegations of physical abuse and misuse of Church funds. The sexual abuse rumor only surfaced after his resignation.

He was a controversial prelate so deaf to the mounting criticism of him inside the Church that Zollitsch and Marx issued a rare public call for him to quit before he agreed.

A spokesman for Marx, archbishop of Munich, denied there had been any conspiracy at work and damned Mixa with faint praise.

"We hope that retired Bishop Mixa continues his recovery. His stay in the psychiatric clinic was an important first step in that direction," Bernhard Keller told Munich Church Radio.

The Church did not want to reveal any more details about his case "in order to protect the retired bishop," he added.

In Augsburg, the auxiliary bishop now running the diocese denied Mixa's charge that he and two colleagues had leaked the sexual abuse rumor as part of the conspiracy against him.

In his interview, Mixa, who is due to visit Rome next month and meet the German-born pope, said he was considering appealing to a Vatican court to declare his resignation null and void.

He seemed to take a first step in that direction last week by moving back into the bishop' residence in Augsburg that he left after retiring. Church officials said his stay there was temporary until he could find other lodgings.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told journalists that "one cannot expect the pope's decision will be changed."

German newspapers said the dispute cast the embattled Church in a poor light. "It looks bad for an institution when scandal becomes the only form of communication in which internal conflicts are discussed," Die Welt wrote.

(Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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The Telegraph - U.K. June 21, 2010

Walter Mixa, German bishop and ally of the Pope, faces new child abuse allegations

A secret Vatican file on a disgraced Roman Catholic German bishop alleges he is a "severely alcoholic man" who sexually preyed on young priests.

By Bruno Waterfield

The dossier was seen Pope Benedict XVI before he accepted the resignation of Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg last month.

Documents, compiled after Vatican investigators questioned members of Bishop Mixa's inner circle, have detailed a litany of alleged alcoholism and sexual abuse.

The new allegations have come to light following his demands last week that the Vatican review his case. He has accused Germany's Archbishop Robert Zollitsch and Bavaria's Archbishop Reinhard Marx of not behaving a "brotherly" manner and pressuring him to resign.

In the dossier, witnesses described the bishop as an alcoholic who had to drink wine and spirits throughout the course of his day to feed his addiction to alcohol.

Others accused him of carrying out sex attacks on young priests during his time as a parish priest. Following an sexual incident, Bishop Mixa would then "go to confession the next morning before he celebrated mass".

The bishop was also repeatedly referred to in the dossier as "out of touch with reality".

Bishop Mixa has denied all allegations of sexual abuse as "baseless".

Gerhard Decker, the bishop's lawyer told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the sex abuse claim was "all a misunderstanding."

The Bishop of Augsberg's resignation in early May followed accusations that he beat children at a Catholic orphanage in the 1970s and later misused Church money.

Bishop Mixa has since moved back into his Church mansion, and says he will demand the decision to accept his resignation is reversed next month. He claims the Pontiff was pressured to accept his resignation due to the unproven allegations of sexual abuse.

Padre Fedrico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said: "The Pope has based his decision on the basis of information. Where he obtained the information is secondary."

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