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Bishop Mixa attacked from within Church for dismissing victims

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Bishop Mixa attacked from within Church for dismissing victims
A file photo of Mertes. Photo: DPA
16:01 CEST+02:00
The Catholic school headmaster who first raised concerns about sex abuse in the Church in January has attacked the embattled Bishop Walter Mixa, accusing him of being too dismissive of his alleged victim's claims.

In comments previewed Wednesday, Klaus Mertes, head of Berlin's Canisius College, told this week's edition of Die Zeit that Mixa, who is facing allegations that he hit and beat school students, was “discrediting” the victims.

Prompted by fears there had been systematic abuse in the 1970s and 1980s at the elite Canisius school, Mertes wrote in January to more than 600 former students asking them to come forward if they had been abused.

The resulting flood of allegations spread to other Catholic schools and parishes across the country, sparking a scandal that went on to engulf the Church.

“We must not discredit victims, as he did,” Mertes said of Mixa.

Mixa has been accused of hitting children at the St. Josef children's home in Schrobenhausen, north of Munich, in the 1970s and 1980s – accusations he has strongly denied. He went on to say he could not remember the alleged victims and doubted they could remember him.

Mertes also criticised the Curia – the central administrative body of the Church – and said abuse of children and adolescents by priests was a greater betrayal than by a sports teacher, for example.

“The fall is greater than with a sporting instructor, because the priest acts on behalf of Christ in the mind of Catholics,” he told Die Zeit.

He went on to say that those church officials “who portrayed themselves as victims, discredit the whole Church.”

He described the Curia as a “spaceship ... that is in danger of losing contact with the ground.”

Mertes said he had “great respect” for Pope Benedict, who he believed had not shied away from the truth in the abuse affair.

“I hope that amid the criticism, he can recover even more love for the Church,” he said.

But Mertes added that the Pope was subjected to modern criticism and he sometimes acted as if he was being wounded by the world.

“That makes him deaf to the fact that God also speaks to the Church through the secular world,” he said.

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