Disgraced German bishop stirs messy row with Catholic hierarchy

June 17, 2010

mixaA messy dispute has broken out in Germany’s Catholic Church after a bishop accused of abusing minors said his superiors had tricked Pope Benedict into retiring him and he might ask the Vatican to be reinstated.

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 Benedict to accept it.

(Photo: Bishop Walter Mixa, 2 March 2009/Christian Charisius)

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.

The dispute put an embarrassing spotlight back on the sexual abuse crisis that rocked the German Church earlier this year but had since slipped from the headlines. It also prompted comments from churchmen that one newspaper described as “not Christian.”

“Bishop Mixa is acting really foolishly,” Rev. Eberhard von Gemmingen, former head of Vatican Radio’s German service, told ZDF television on Thursday. “He’s lost touch with reality … he’s a sick man and it’s silly to make so much noise about him.”

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