A DAY after the Vatican insisted that it had “diplomatic immunity” and could not be hauled into a US court to testify in a Kentucky abuse case hearing, news broke that a German bishop and close friend of Pope Ratzinger viciously beat Catholic orphans.
Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg is accused of flogging and beating pupils at a Catholic orphanage in Germany 30 years ago.
The Bishop, who was appointed by the Pope in 2005, is a controversial figure who has tried to explain paedophilia in the Church by claiming the sexual liberation movement must share a “significant” part of the blame.
He is said to have used a carpet beater on the bare skin of boys and girls as he screamed:
Satan is in you and I must drive him out.
Five alleged victims from the orphanage, in the village of Schrobenhausen, have claimed he also used a stick, a wooden cookery spoon and, when that broke, his fists.
Nuns of the Mallersdorf order who worked for him at the at the St Josef children’s home in Schrobenhausen also hit the children with “wooden brooms, wooden shoes, and clothing hangers,” they said.
A man who refused to be identified because he works as a teacher himself now told Germany’s Sueddeutsche newspaper:
A minimum of 50 times in one year he made me drop my trousers and beat me on my behind with a carpet beater or a stick, really, really hard.
As a young cleric, Mixa, 68, was friendly with the then Cardinal Ratzinger in Germany. He is part of a conservative group in Bavaria that has backed the Pope’s more controversial decisions.
A spokeswoman for the Bishopric of Augsburg said:
These are absurd and defamatory statements.
The orphanage has been under different management since 1999 and no complaints have been made public since Mr Mixa moved on and started to rise in the church hierarchy.
The claims came as Vatican officials drew up a three-pronged attack on attempts by American lawyers to drag Pope Benedict XVI before a court to answer questions on the priest sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church.
Lawyers in Kentucky want Benedict to go before a judge to reveal what he knows of abuse claims, but the Vatican legal team is arguing that the Pope has immunity as a head of state and therefore cannot be summonsed.
They are also insisting that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests were not employees of the Vatican and that a 1962 document is not the “smoking gun” that provides proof of a cover-up.
The Kentucky case centres on determining whether victims actually have a claim against the Vatican itself, for allegedly failing to alert police or the public about priests who molested children.
It was filed in 2004 by three men who claim they were abused by priests and claim negligence by the Vatican and their lawyer William McMurry insists there are thousands of victims across the country.
And in Switzerland, where 60 allegations of paedophile priests have been reported, bishops admitted they had “underestimated” the extent of sexual abuse by clergy.
Meanwhile, we learn that a nowÂ “disfellowed” Jehovah’s Witness has been jailed indefinitely after being convicted at Hull Crown Court for 19 rapes, four counts of sexual activity with a child, six counts of indecency with a child, one sex assault and two counts of indecency with a child.
Judge Roger Thorn QC told George Arthur Cockerill, 78:
You have pleaded guilty to 32 serious counts that reflect your sexual depravity â€¦You have been the most terrible hypocrite, passing yourself off as a law-abiding member of the community and using religion as a tool of subjection to control your victims.
Cockerill was sentenced to a minimum of six years. He will not be released until the Parole Board believe he is no longer a danger. He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.
A spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses said:
We do not tolerate in any way that kind of behaviour. When this was brought to our attention Mr Cockerill was disfellowshipped and therefore he is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness.
Hat tip: PaulEd (Mixa) and Alan H (Cockerill)