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Archbishop investigated for abetting sex abuse

AFP · 2 Jun 2010, 18:40

Published: 02 Jun 2010 18:40 GMT+02:00

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Robert Zollitsch, the head of German Bishops' Conference, is being investigated

for allegedly turning a blind eye to the abuse by a priest, public prosecutor Wolfgang Maier in the southern city of Freiburg said.

The Freiburg diocese said Zollitsch strongly denied the charges.

ARD public television reported earlier that the alleged victim said he was abused at the Birnau Monastery in the Freiburg diocese, where Zollitsch was employed.

Prosecutors said the man accused Zollitsch, who was responsible for human resources in the diocese, of learning of the abuse but nevertheless assuring that the priest was employed again at Birnau in 1987.

Maier told news agency AFP the case had been passed on to the state prosecutor's office in Konstanz, southern Germany "without further review" because an investigation of the priest was already underway there.

"That is why I cannot comment on the substance of the accusations," he said.

A spokesman for the Konstanz prosecutor's office said Wednesday that the files had not yet arrived.

A Freiburg diocese spokesman said that Zollitsch had not ordered the priest to be employed at Birnau, saying the monastery operated "independently."

"The accusations of criminal behaviour by Dr Robert Zollitsch in connection with the Birnau Monastery are without foundation," he said.

"The former human relations chief Zollitsch was neither aware of the accusations from the 1960s nor of a new hiring of this priest and in no way ordered such a decision."

Story continues below…

The diocese said it had only become aware in late 2006 of at least one suspected case of sexual abuse at Birnau in the 1960s.

Like other European countries, Germany has been rocked in recent months by revelations that hundreds of children were physically or sexually abused in institutions, the vast majority run by the Roman Catholic Church.

The scandal has badly damaged the standing of the Church in Germany, and also of the German-born pope, five years after his appointment as leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics was a source of great national pride.

Zollitsch, 71, had met with Pope Benedict XVI in April at the Vatican about the spreading scandal.

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Your comments about this article

01:09 June 3, 2010 by Prufrock2010
The beat goes on.

This is how the Catholic Church is attempting to shield itself from liability. Read the following quote carefully:

"The former human relations chief Zollitsch was neither aware of the accusations from the 1960s nor of a new hiring of this priest and in no way ordered such a decision."

The Church's current legal strategy is to take the position that it was not responsible for the acts of its clergy with respect to the legal doctrine of agency, thus it has no liability. The Church is trying this defense in American courts as well (currently in Kentucky). They will never accept their own culpability because to do so would be to expose themselves to massive civil damages. The Church, despite the platitudes uttered by Ratzinger, cares nothing about its victims. It is simply circling the wagons, invoking amnesia, and claiming this scandal to be a "phenomenon." The only thing phenomenal about it is the never-ending chutzpah of the Church. Send money, guns and lawyers seems to be the Church's posture when it comes to the exposure of its ongoing criminal conduct.
10:48 June 3, 2010 by Bensonradar
In the old days, young boys were keen to enter the priesthood. Now we are told it was the other way round.
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