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Church suspends priest whom Benedict helped

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Church suspends priest whom Benedict helped
Photo: DPA
08:07 CET+01:00
The Catholic priest at the centre of a paedophilia scandal that has embroiled Pope Benedict XVI was suspended from duty late Monday amid revelations he was still working with children 25 years after he was convicted of sexual abuse.

Another priest who had the job of overseeing convicted paedophile, Peter H., resigned in response to the latest information was made public.

Priest Peter H. had violated the conditions of his employment by continuing to have contact with children and youths and had therefore been suspended from his duties “with immediate effect,” said Bernhard Kellner, spokesman for the diocese of Munich and Freising on Monday, according to daily Bild.

Peter H. was accused of sexually abusing boys in the Diocese of Essen in 1980, including forcing an 11-year-old to perform oral sex. Pope Benedict XVI, who was then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger of Munich and Freising, approved Peter H.’s transfer to Munich for therapy.

Peter H. was soon approved for return to full pastoral duties and continued to serve in a series of Bavarian parishes but six years later was convicted of sexually abusing children in the Bavarian town of Grafing.

According to daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Peter H. had conducted several youth church activities, including a camping trip as recently as last summer, though there were no indications of further abuse.

The senior minister in the archbishopric, Josef Obermaier, resigned, acknowledging that he had failed in his duty to oversee Peter H.’s compliance with the agreement not to have contact with children.

The child sex abuse scandal currently rocking Germany has affected 19 of the country’s 27 Catholic dioceses, with new accusations almost daily from former school pupils and choir members.

Pope Benedict XVI, who spent much of his early church career in his home country of Germany, has actively spoken against paedophilia and made promises that accusations would be investigated wherever they arose.

After a meeting on Friday with Germany's top Catholic cleric, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, he also approved moves to appoint a watchdog to prevent child sex abuse.

Rupert Frania, the priest in charge of the congregation in Bad Tölz, where Peter H. spent the last year and a half, said in an interview on Sunday that his superiors did not tell them about the priest’s history of sexual abuse. The Archbishopric of Munich and Freising has however distanced itself from this claim.

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