A paedophile priest in Germany has sought the approval of Pope Benedict XVI to resign from the priesthood after admitting he molested boarding-school boys in the 1970s, his order said Tuesday.
The case shines a light on a recurring problem within the church
At least 16 men have come forward to say they were forced into sexual acts as boys at the school, near Bad Neustadt an der Saale, 110 kilometers (62 miles) east of Frankfurt.
The incidents occured too long ago, between 1972 and 1976, to be prosecuted as crimes. The school closed in 1978.
The order said the resignation meant victims would not have to appear before a canonical court to give evidence.
Former pupils said the man raped boys in the dormitories as other boys watched.
Downgraded to brother
The Missionaries of the Holy Family expressed deep regret to the victims and said the man, now 71, would no longer serve as a priest, but would remain with the order as a brother.
The order said from its office in Mainz, Germany, he is to be prohibited from any contact with children or young men and would be dismissed from the order if he contravened this edict.
"He has owned up to his guilt," the statement by the order said, adding it would assist former victims to obtain counselling.
The scandal became public over summer this year when a theologian who was educated at the school revealed the acts, leading to the priest being suspended from his tasks as chaplain at an old people's home.