The Local: Germany’s News in English
Published: 20 Apr 10 11:26 CET
Controversial Augsburg bishop Walter Mixa has asked for forgiveness as church officials look into accusations that he physically abused children at a church orphanage and spent the institution’s money on art, wine and jewellery.
“This pains my heart and I am sorry that I created trouble for many people,” he said during a diocese priests’ council meeting in Leitershofen on Monday night. “I ask for forgiveness.”
In recent weeks Mixa was accused of physically abusing several former wards of St. Josef children’s home in Schrobenhausen, north of Munich, in the 1970s and 1980s – allegations he strongly denied until this weekend when he said he could not rule out possible “cuffs around the ear.”
Meanwhile a special investigation into activities at the orphanage and the charitable foundation which ran it has now been completed by lawyer Sebastian Knott, whose ten-page report highlights a number of seemingly incongruous purchases by the orphanage.
These include spending 15,000 Deutsche marks on a Mary icon, DM43,000 on what was likely a counterfeit Piransi engraving, DM70,500 on a fancy crucifix. Thousands were also spent on wine, which was forbidden in the home.
Knott’s report does not make any conclusions over whether Mixa, as head of the board of trustees of the Catholic Orphanage Foundation, or the actual head of the Schrobenhausen home, was responsible for the purchases. But he confirmed that many of the bills were signed by Mixa.
“The priests’ council shares the concerns of many about the credibility of the church,” the diocese said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that they supported a thorough investigation of the accusations.
One unnamed member of the priests’ council told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that many council members were asking when, not if, Mixa would be removed from his post.
“This bishop is no longer tolerable,” he told the paper, adding that there had been a “massive loss of trust” among church members.
Mixa’s alleged conduct is just the latest in a series of scandals to hit Germany’s Catholic church. The institution has been embroiled in a crisis over recent months as victims of widespread sexual and physical abuse continue to come forward. Most cases date back years or even decades, a fact that has politicians debating a possible extension to the statute of limitations on such crimes.
DDP/The Local (email@example.com)