Diocese under fire: priest held on sex charge

3rd September 2007, Comments 0 comments

03 September 2007, Regensburg, Germany (dpa) - Germany's Catholic Church came under fire Saturday for re-employing a convicted paedophile priest who was arrested this week for allegedly sexually abusing an altar-boy again.

03 September 2007

Regensburg, Germany (dpa) - Germany's Catholic Church came under fire Saturday for re-employing a convicted paedophile priest who was arrested this week for allegedly sexually abusing an altar-boy again.

The priest, 39, received a suspended one-year prison term in 2000 for molesting at least one boy, but was put in charge of a new parish after therapy. He is now accused of molesting another boy repeatedly between 2003 and 2006.

Johannes Heibel, head of a group that assists children abused by adults, said that if the charges were borne out, the diocese of Regensburg should also be prosecuted.

"It's irresponsible to put people in the hands of such priests," said Heibel, who heads the Society against Violence and Sexual Abuse of Children and Young People.

"This case shows that therapy for sex offenders does not adequately ensure they are safe."

The priest was previously convicted for acts while the curate of Viechtach in Bavaria state.

He was later made parish priest of Reikhofen. Prosecutors said there was evidence he had molested a boy who had assisted him at masses. He was taken into custody Thursday because of the risk he would flee the country.

Parishioners voiced anger that the diocese did not inform them until a month ago about the priest's past. Critics said his re- employment breached a guideline by Germany's National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Regensburg's conservative Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller has come under fire in the past for dissolving the main lay advisory body in the diocese. Last year he hosted a visit by Pope Benedict XVI whose home is in the city.

The German Catholic Church was relatively unscathed by the child-sex scandals and compensation payouts that nearly bankrupted dioceses in the United States and other nations from the late 1990s onwards.

dpa

Subject: German news

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