Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday accepted the resignation of German bishop Walter Mixa who has been accused of hitting children. It's the latest in a string of Catholic officials forced to quit over an abuse scandal.
Augsburg bishop bows to abuse allegations
A statement from the Vatican said the Pope had accepted the resignation tendered by controversial Augsburg bishop, Walter Mixa, who has been embroiled in a child abuse scandal.
The 68-year-old bishop found himself caught up in the Catholic Church's child sex abuse scandal in April after first denying, and then admitting, that he had slapped children decades ago at a children's home when he was still a parish priest.
Eight people who lived at the home have come forward with claims that he beat them with his fists, a stick and even a carpet beater.
After weeks of denials, Mixa recently admitted he could “not rule out a cuff or two around the ear 20 years ago” and added that “I very much regret that today.”
New allegations against Mixa
Further controversy erupted on Friday when prosecutors said they were investigating allegations of sex abuse by Bishop Mixa, following claims of abuse by a former alleged victim.
A spokeswoman for the justice ministry in the southern German state of Bavaria confirmed that prosecutors in the city of Ingolstadt were conducting a preliminary inquiry into the sex claims.
Mixa's lawyer, Gerhard Decker, told the regional Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that his client "utterly denies the allegations being made against him and will cooperate with prosecutors to the utmost to bring this case to a clear close."
German weekly magazine, Focus, reported on Saturday that the pope had been told by senior German clergy of the sex abuse allegations against Mixa before the bishop had tendered his resignation.
"The events in recent weeks have hugely damaged the whole diocese of Augsburg and the Catholic Church in Germany," head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Robert Zollitsch said on Saturday. "The swift decision of the Pope has created the needed clarity. It gives all those involved a chance for a new beginning."
A recent spate of sex abuse allegations against members of the clergy has tarnished the image of the Roman Catholic Church.
In recent weeks, a Belgian bishop resigned after admitting he had sexually abused a boy and three Irish bishops quit over their handling of sexual abuse cases.
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar