Friday, July 9, 2010

Pope appoints bishop to troubled Bavarian diocese

Pope appoints bishop to troubled Bavarian diocese
DEREK SCALLY in Berlin

Fri, Jul 09, 2010

AFTER MONTHS of controversy surrounding Augsburg bishop Walter Mixa, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed as his successor Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Görlitz.

Following three years heading Germany’s smallest diocese, on the Polish border, Bishop Zdarsa moves to one of Germany’s most prestigious postings with responsibility for 1.3 million Catholics.

Church observers suggest that, with its swift appointment – just two months after the pope accepted Bishop Mixa’s resignation – the Vatican is anxious to put an end to the unprecedented drama in Bavaria.

After a controversial career, Bishop Mixa resigned after first denying, then admitting he beat orphans living in the 1970s in a children’s home under his care.

Amid growing media pressure, he submitted his resignation and went on holiday three months ago. Last month, he raised eyebrows in Augsburg by moving back into his residence, claiming he had been pressurised into resigning. Within days, details were leaked to the press of his alleged involvement in financial irregularities, an alleged alcohol problem and reports of sexual approaches to deacons.

After Bishop Mixa confirmed his resignation, prosecutors dropped their investigations into the allegations due to lack of evidence. At a meeting in the Vatican last week, the pope urged him to take a “period of silence, healing and reconciliation”.

Compared to the conservative Bishop Mixa, notorious for controversial soundbites, the 66-year-old Bishop Zdarsa is known as a conciliatory figure.

Born in Saxony, he was ordained in 1974 in Dresden and served as priest and bishop in that city.

© 2010 The Irish Times

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