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Updated: March 16, 2010 17:14 IST

German diocese suspends convicted sex abuser

AP
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Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message during his visit at Rome's Lutheran church, on Sunday. Photo: AP.
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message during his visit at Rome's Lutheran church, on Sunday. Photo: AP.

A German archdiocese that Pope Benedict XVI oversaw from 1977 to 1986 said on Monday that a priest convicted in 1986 of sexually abusing children has been suspended for violating a condition that he have no contact with minors.

The disclosure came as the church is grappling with claims by about 300 Germans who have alleged this year that priests sexually or physically abused them in church—run boarding schools and other institutions.

The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising said in a statement onMonday that it had removed the German priest, identified only as Rev. H., from his duties after “it was proved he did not comply with the conditions set following allegations of sexually abusing minors and a conviction in the justice system.”

Prelate Josef Obermaier, who was responsible for assigning the pastor to his current position, also resigned, the archdiocese said.

Pope Benedict XVI has not yet officially commented the flood of allegations that priests sexually and physically abused minors in their care, and according to Archbishop Rino Fisichella he is expected to soon release a letter addressing similar claims in Ireland.

In Ireland on Monday, Cardinal Sean Brady, said he would not resign unless the pope asked him to, despite admitting that he helped the church collect evidence against a priest who molested scores of children in Ireland, Britain and the United States before his arrest in 1994.

According to the Archdioceses of Munich and Freising, the suspended German priest had been transferred to Munich from another German diocese in 1980. There the priest was to undergo therapy for “sexual relations with boys,” the archdiocese said.

Despite the knowledge of his background as a pedophile, the priest was sent two years later to work in parish in Grafing. He was suspended in early 1985 following new accusations of sexual abuse, for which he was convicted the following year.

The archdiocese said there had been no fresh complaints against the priest since his 1986 conviction, but that “he was forbidden from any work with children and youth.”

Following his conviction, the priest was sent in 1987 to work in a nursing home, then held administrative jobs until 2008, when he was sent to work primarily with visitors as part of a parish in a Bavarian spa town.

The pope served as archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1986, before being called to the Vatican, where he became the pope in 2005.

Dirk Taenzler, head of the BDKJ catholic youth group, told The Associated Press on Monday that he is hoping for the pope to come forward and speak on the issue, saying the nation’s Roman Catholics are appalled and worried.

“Everyone is suffering from the church’s bad image”, Taenzler said. “It is an issue in every congregation and everyone is trying to cope.”

The allegations in Germany came only weeks after it was revealed that sexual abuse was systematic in Ireland’s Catholic church and has sparked similar allegations in the Netherlands and Austria.

Fisichella told Italy’s Corriere della Sera in an interview published on Monday that the zero—tolerance policy that Pope Benedict wants to implement is a “moral obligation” and that the pope would speak with a “clear and decisive voice” in his pastoral letter to be distributed to Ireland’s 4 million Catholics at Easter.

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