Former bishop admits mistakes

Former bishop admits mistakes

The diocese of Erfurt informs about a case of abuse. In the 1960s, a current retired priest allegedly abused a minor several times. Former bishop Joachim Wanke admits to having made a mistake.

On suspicion of multiple sexual abuse of a minor, the Erfurt diocese has filed criminal charges against one of its priests with the Muhlhausen public prosecutor's office. The acts allegedly occurred between 1962 and 1965 in what is now the Kyffhauser district, the diocese announced Wednesday. The accused has lived in retirement for years and is no longer in pastoral ministry. He denies the allegations.

In addition, another ecclesiastical trial

In addition to the investigation by the public prosecutor, Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr initiated ecclesiastical proceedings. He forbade the accused priest contacts with minors. In addition, he may not lead services or administer sacraments until further notice. The alleged victim had reported to one of the commissioners of the diocese of Erfurt, who examine suspected cases of sexual abuse of minors.

Until then, according to the current diocese management, no suspicious cases against the accused priest were known. There had also been no corresponding reference in the personnel file.

Outside the personnel file, however, a 1989 memo from Hans-Reinhard Koch, then in charge of personnel and later an auxiliary bishop, had been found documenting accusations that the priest had exhibited "homosexual behavior toward young people". At that time, according to the current amption of the diocese, it remained with admonishments because the accused had denied the acts.

"I have to answer for that"

Bishop Joachim Wanke, who was responsible at the time, admitted to having made a mistake, according to the diocese. "I wish the allegations had been investigated as carefully at the time as they are today," he explained. Then he might have had to draw other consequences. "I am responsible for that," said the former bishop.

Wanke's successor, Neymeyr, announced that in the coming year independent experts would be commissioned to examine all personal files of clergymen available in the episcopal ordinariate for indications of sexual abuse, in addition to the personnel files already examined. "We owe this to the victims of sexual abuse," the bishop explained.

Report any suspicions

Even before the criminal charges were filed against the priest now accused, the Erfurt diocese had ared the Thuringian attorney general's office, according to its own statement, that it would cooperate in suspected cases of sexual abuse and hand over all files requested by the public prosecutor's office.

Neymeyr again called for reporting any suspicion of sexual abuse of children and young people in the church environment to the abuse commissioners of the Erfurt diocese. The contacts Michael Kellert and Ursula Samietz are independent and not employees of the diocese, the bishop stressed.

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