Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pope's ally probed over sex abuse claims

Pope's ally probed over sex abuse claims
A close friend of Pope Benedict XVI who has already offered to resign after admitting that he hit children in his care is now being investigated over allegations of paedophilia.

Published: 8:32PM BST 07 May 2010
Daily Telegraph

Bishop Walter Mixa Photo: REUTERS Prosecutors in the southern city of Augsburg said that they had opened a preliminary probe into Walter Mixa after media reports said he had been accused of sexually abusing a boy while bishop of Eichstaett between 1996 and 2005.

The 69-year-old bishop for weeks rebuffed allegations that he beat children at a Roman Catholic orphanage in the 1970s and 1980s. But, in the face of several sworn statements from his accusers, the bishop from the Pope's native Bavaria later admitted that he "may have" slapped the children while a priest. On April 21 he tendered his resignation after admitting giving youngsters in his care "a slap in the face or two", which he said was "completely normal back then."

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The scandal has badly damaged the standing of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, and also of the Pope, whose appointment five years ago as leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics was a source of great national pride.

The Augsburger Allgemeine daily cited a lawyer for Bishop Mixa, long known as a hardliner who in February blamed sexual abuse of children by priests in part on "the so-called sexual revolution", as rejecting the latest accusations.

The diocese of Augsburg said it had alerted prosecutors to the accusations in line with new German Bishops' Conference guidelines following sharp criticism that the Church had not done enough to investigate in the past.

The pope has yet to respond to Bishop Mixa's offer to quit.

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