Episcopal Ordinariate is written on a sign of the Eichstatt diocese © Armin Weigel
In the case of the Eichstatt cathedral chaplain burdened by allegations of sexual assault, there are apparently new developments. On Monday, there is to be a first ecclesiastical hearing in the Episcopal Ordinariate of Eichstatt.
This was announced by the lawyers of the accused in Munich on Friday. In addition, another man had come forward in the meantime and affirmed in lieu of an oath that he, too, had been forced by the priest to engage in sexual acts during his work at the Vatican.
Moreover, one had found further witnesses who confirmed the suspicion "that responsible persons in Rome and Eichstatt have delayed a criminal prosecution of the prelate, against better knowledge and over years, and have covered up his alleged acts", so the lawyers further.
Eichstatt diocese keeps a low profile
The Eichstatt diocese did not directly address these statements when asked by the Catholic News Agency (KNA). It said it had opened a preliminary canonical investigation into the allegations against the clergyman. Their purpose is to "examine the truth of allegations made in order to decide whether proceedings should be opened. We cannot and are not allowed to give any public information on the current status of this ongoing preliminary investigation, analogous to secular preliminary investigation proceedings."
The diocese again pointed out that the person in question had his offices and functions in the diocese suspended. His duties are being carried out by temporary representatives. This measure was taken by the diocese management after consultation with the accused.
Canon a former Vatican diplomat
The cathedral chaplain is a former Vatican diplomat who, according to a report in the "Bild" newspaper in April 2019, is alleged to have committed multiple sexual assaults against a cleric subordinate to him in the Vatican. In a letter obtained by the newspaper, the accused had stated that he had been a frequent "victim of sexual assaults" by his former superior and had subsequently become mentally ill. The case is known in the Vatican.
According to the diocese, the accused rejected the anonymously made accusations as false.
The Ingolstadt public prosecutor's office, which had initiated a preliminary investigation immediately after the "Bild" report, told the KNA on Friday: "It is still being examined whether there are sufficient factual indications of criminally relevant behavior."