Eichstatt Cathedral © manfredxy (shutterstock)
The allegations of sexual assault by a senior cleric of the Eichstatt diocese in the Vatican remain without criminal consequences in Germany. The man currently rests his offices and functions in the diocese of Eichstatt.
The Ingolstadt public prosecutor's office has ended its preliminary investigation into the case and is not initiating any preliminary proceedings. The authority informed the Catholic News Agency (KNA) on Tuesday on request. Already a week ago, the Ingolstadt "Donaukurier" had reported something like this; at that time, the public prosecutor's office did not comment on it. The preliminary investigations against the clergyman were initiated after an article in the "Bild" newspaper in April 2019.
Different regulation than in the case of sexual abuse of minors
The newspaper had reported that during his diplomatic service in the Vatican (2001-2008), the man had repeatedly sexually assaulted a clergyman who was subordinate to him there. Independently of the action of the public prosecutor's office, a preliminary investigation under canon law is still underway against the cathedral chaplain in the Eichstatt diocese. According to the diocese, the clergyman has rejected the accusations as false, and his offices and functions in the diocese are currently suspended.
Unlike the sexual abuse of minors, violations of the promise of celibacy attract penalties under canon law only under special conditions. This includes forcing sexual acts by force or threats. The maximum penalty in such cases is the removal of the perpetrator from the clerical rank.