As the dust settled on the resignation tender of Germany’s most controversial bishop, many Catholics also expressed hope that Pope Benedict would respond quickly to the resignation offer so that the Church can put the episode behind it.
Following weeks of accusations that he hit and beat children at a Bavarian orphanage in the 1970s and 1980s, Mixa finally announced late Wednesday night he had offered the Vatican his resignation as Bishop of Augsburg and Catholic Military Bishop for the German Bundeswehr.
The beleaguered Church, facing a child abuse scandal of which Mixa’s case is just one tiny part, has overwhelmingly welcomed the resignation.
“The resignation of Bishop Mixa is a great relief. The situation was getting to be a serious burden for the Catholic Church,” Alois Glück, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics told daily Der Tagesspiegel.
Helmut Mangold, chairman of the Augsburg Diocese Council, which represents 1.3 million Bavarian Catholics, said he had been “shocked” that the resignation had come so quickly.
“But the pressure from the German bishops was very great,” he said. “When the Bishop decided to resign, I respected the move, which is the logical one. He would have needed good reasons to stay on.”
Mangold urged Pope Benedict XVI to make a speedy decision on the resignation offer, so that “the diocese can continue its work freely and in peace.”
That sentiment was echoed by the lay group Wir sind Kirche, which called on Benedict to settle the matter immediately for the good of the Church.
For Hamburg Auxiliary Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke, however, the resignation came a week too late.
“I felt the move was absolutely necessary and maybe in fact a week too late,” he told broadcaster ZDF on Thursday evening.
If the Church wanted to win trust, its representatives had to be “genuinely credible,” he said.
The post-mortem of the Mixa affair came as Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger called on an upcoming “round table” to come up with quick answers for the problem of child abuse, particularly regarding an overhaul of the system for dealing with abuse cases.
“Dialogue about prevention and an overhaul should be conducted with great earnestness across all party political interests,” she told the Hamburger Abendblatt daily.
Family Minister Kristina Schröder, meanwhile, called on the Church to commit itself to “clearer” guidelines for working with state prosecutors on child abuse cases.