Wednesday, June 23, 2010

German church says bishop's resignation based on a file on misconduct

German church says bishop's resignation based on a file on misconduct
By Verena Schmitt-Roschman (CP) – 17 hours ago

BERLIN — Germany's Roman Catholic bishops confirmed Tuesday that a secret file detailing alleged misconduct by a former bishop was sent to the Vatican before the Pope accepted his resignation in May.

Germany's 27 bishops said in a written statement following a meeting that they had discussed the Rev. Walter Mixa's case "with great unease" and had decided to "confirm that accusations now made public in the media have been passed on to Rome in April 2010."

"Pope Benedict XVI has acted on this and accepted the offer of resignation of Bishop Mixa," they said.

The bishops did not specify which accusations they were referring to and the bishops' conference spokesman Matthias Kopp refused to comment. But the statement came the day after German media widely reported the secret file contains allegations that Mixa, 69, is an alcoholic and that two priests claim Mixa made sexual advances toward them.

Mixa offered his resignation April 22 after accusations surfaced that he hit children decades ago as a priest and allegations of financial misconduct in his former congregation.

Mixa's lawyer Gerhard Decker did not return repeated calls from The Associated Press.

The bishops conference's statement is the latest twist in the unusually public controversy surrounding Mixa's exit, which came at the height of the abuse scandal rocking the church since the beginning of the year.

On May 7, public prosecutors launched an investigation into sexual abuse allegations that was dropped a week later for lack of evidence. The pope accepted his resignation May 8.

Last week, Mixa told Germany's Die Welt newspaper he was pressured by his peers to sign the letter of resignation, that he repealed the offer three day later and that it was based on the sexual abuse claim that was later dropped.

The Munich arch diocese reacted by saying the resignation was appropriately handled and that it wished Mixa "a continuing good recovery."

It did not elaborate on what Mixa was recovering from, but said "his time in a psychiatric clinic was an important first step."

Only a few day later, the secret file on Mixa was leaked to two major newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. They reported the file had been sent to the Vatican April 27; neither divulged their sources for the document.

Sueddeutsche, quoting from the file, said that people working with Mixa reported him being a heavy drinker who used alcohol at all times during the day. The paper also reported the files included detailed accusations from two priests who claimed to have been subject to sexual advances from Mixa in the 1990s.

Bishops conference spokesman Kopp declined to say who exactly had composed the file on Mixa and who sent it to Rome.

When asked if the bishops meant to confirm all allegations mentioned in recent news reports, Kopp said he would not elaborate.

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