Europe

German Bishop Walter Mixa 'pressured to quit'

Bishop Walter Mixa (file image)
Image caption Bishop Mixa said he wrote to the Pope repealing his resignation

A former German bishop who resigned after being accused of hitting children says he was pressured into the decision and may appeal to the Vatican.

Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg said his resignation letter to the Pope was drawn up by other clerics.

"The pressure under which I signed the prewritten resignation was similar to purgatory," he told the Die Welt daily.

Fr Mixa had initially denied hitting children but later said he may have slapped them, and apologised.

He told Die Welt that his memory was still confused over the period when he is alleged to have issued beatings, at a Catholic children's home in the 1970s and 1980s.

He said he had "made a mistake" by not immediately admitting that he could not account for every corporal punishment, which he said were customary at that time.

The German Church has been hit by allegations of sexual abuse by priests against children at several establishments - part of a wider scandal involving paedophile priests in the Catholic Church.

Fr Mixa is not accused of sex abuse. One such claim was raised against him, but the case was dropped after an initial investigation.

Fr Mixa said that Robert Zollitsch, Germany's top archbishop, and Reinhard Marx, head of the Bavarian bishops conference, had used the "baseless" rumour to help persuade Pope Benedict XVI that Fr Mixa should go.

After submitting his resignation, he said, "I was desperate, not knowing what to do".

"Three days later, I repealed it in a letter to the Pope," he said.

Nonetheless, the Pope later accepted his resignation.

Fr Mixa is due to meet the Pope next month, and hopes to ask him "how the situation should develop from here".

"I definitely want in some way to become active again in pastoral duties," he told Die Welt.

The other German bishops denied they had acted improperly over Fr Mixa's resignation, saying "everything was done according to the rules".

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