A MESSY dispute has broken out in Germany’s Catholic Church after a bishop accused of abusing minors said his superiors had tricked Pope Ratzinger into retiring him and he might ask the Vatican to be reinstated.
According to this report, 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 the Pope 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.
Rev Eberhard von Gemmingen, former head of Vatican Radio’s German service, said this week:
Bishop Mixa is acting really foolishly. It’s very stupid to play this up in public. 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 Ratzinger 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. 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.
Bernhard Keller, 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.
Die Welt wrote:
It looks bad for an institution when scandal becomes the only form of communication in which internal conflicts are discussed.
Pierino Gelmini, 85, is alleged to have abused 12 young people at a drug rehabilitation centre he had founded.
The Comunita Incontro, which runs drug rehabilitation centres worldwide, has enjoyed the support of powerful figures in Italian politics. In 2005, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gave $6m (Â£4m) to his organisation.
Mr Gelmini set up the Communita Incontro in 1963 in the Umbrian town of Amelia. It has more than 200 centres in Italy – and others in France, Spain, the US, Brazil and Thailand.
The allegations against him surfaced in 2008 when nine young men said he had sexually abused them. Another three went to police later.
The first hearing of his trial is due on 29 March 2011.
The Roman Catholic Church in Italy has admitted that about 100 cases of paedophile priests have been reported to church authorities during the past 10 years.
But it is not known how many priests in the country have subsequently been defrocked under canon law – or how many have been prosecuted by police.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Gelmini report)