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Europe

German bishop offers resignation amid Church scandal

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-04-22

In a tumultuous day for the Vatican, German Bishop Walter Mixa (pictured) offered his resignation, while leading members of the UK clergy apologised to abuse victims and the Church accepted the resignation of Irish Bishop James Moriarty.

AFP - The abuse scandal that has swept through the Catholic Church in Europe cost the head of an Irish bishop Thursday as its leaders in England and Wales offered a full apology to victims.

Irish bishop James Moriarty apologised to those who suffered child abuse committed by priests after his resignation was formally accepted by Pope Benedict XVI, and admitted he should have challenged a culture of secrecy.

In a significant day in the scandal, the leaders of the five million Roman Catholics in England and Wales said the crimes had brought "deep shame" to the whole Catholic Church and there were "no excuses" for paedophile priests.

Meanwhile in the pope's native Germany, Walter Mixa, the bishop of Augsburg, offered to stand down after he admitted hitting children, although there was no suggestion he was guilty of sexual abuse.

Moriarty, the bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, had offered to stand down in December in the wake of a damning investigation into the Church's role in covering up abuse over three decades in predominantly Catholic Ireland.

Moriarty, who was auxiliary bishop of Dublin from 1991 to 2002, said although he was not directly criticised in the report by judge Yvonne Murphy, "renewal must begin with accepting responsibility for the past".

"Again I accept that from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture. Once more I apologise to all survivors and their families," he said.

The investigation found Church leaders in the Dublin archdiocese failed to report abuse to police until the 1990s as part of a culture of secrecy and an over-riding wish to avoid damaging the reputation of the Catholic Church.

One priest admitted to sexually abusing more than 100 children, while another confessed he had abused children on a fortnightly basis over 25 years.

The report came after another landmark study which horrified Ireland by revealing widespread sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children in Catholic-run institutions dating back to the 1930s.

Moriarty was the fourth Irish bishop to resign in the wake of the scandal and Ireland's top Catholic churchman, Cardinal Sean Brady, is considering his position after it emerged he had helped hush up victims of sexual abuse.

John Kelly, who suffered years of extreme sexual and physical abuse at one of Ireland's most notorious Catholic-run children's homes, welcomed Moriarty's resignation but said it had been too long coming.

"For the benefit of the Church, for the benefit of the population, for the benefit of the victims, (the pope) needs to move quickly to reassure victims that there aren't bishops who are in some way involved in the cover-up of child abuse," Kelly told AFP.

"We need clear leadership and we haven't been getting that."

Roman Catholic leaders in England and Wales issued an unprecedented apology for the abuse, which they described as "a profound scandal".

A joint statement issued by Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols on behalf of the bishops at the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said the abusing priests "bring deep shame to the whole church."

"But shame is not enough. The abuse of children is a grievous sin against God".

"We express our heartfelt apology and deep sorrow to those who have suffered abuse, those who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed," they said.

"We ask their pardon, and the pardon of God for these terrible deeds done in our midst. There can be no excuses."

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has been regarded as a model of how to respond to the abuse of crisis, having addressed child abuse in two reports a decade ago. It has introduced a strict code to safeguard children.

Mixa, one of Germany's most divisive bishops, offered to resign after admitting to slapping the faces of children in his care.

He had at first rebuffed allegations that he beat children and youths at Catholic orphanage in the 1970s and 1980s, before making the admission to allow the embattled Church a "new start".

Mixa has previously blamed the sexual abuse of children in Church institutions on the "so-called sexual revolution" of the 1960s and 1970s.
 

Date created : 2010-04-22

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