Inquiry into child sexual abuse by Catholic priest in Germany
The inquiry came just one week after Pope Benedict XVI met former victims of clerical molestation in Washington.
Hamburg -- Prosecutors in Germany have opened a child-sex inquiry involving a Catholic priest, officials said.
The inquiry came just one week after Pope Benedict XVI met former victims of clerical molestation in Washington on April 17 and criticized US bishops for their handling of the crisis.
Prosecutors were looking into possible sexual abuse of children by the priest in the northern German city of Hamburg.
The Archdiocese of Hamburg announced Thursday that the priest had been suspended for the duration of the police inquiry.
A city newspaper, the Hamburger Abendblatt, said a complaint against the priest was filed by Krzysztof Stobinski, a Catholic layman on the archdiocese of Hamburg's pastoral council and president of the Polish Business Club in the city.
The newspaper said the allegations had been discovered in correspondence dating back to 1999 and 2000, which had requested action over a homosexual priest who had been seen kissing and fondling an altar boy.
The newspaper said it had seen the details, but it did not print the priest's name.
The priest worked in the Hamburg archdiocese on loan from another diocese.
Responding, Archbishop Werner Thissen said he had not been aware of the allegations until the newspaper story appeared.
"I am very upset that a priest of our church is suspected of such a thing," he said in a statement. "I have suspended the priest involved from his duties until a finding over the allegations.
"This is being done to both protect potential victims and out of obligation to the suspect. We will do all in our power to contribute to an investigation of these claims.
"If young people have been damaged by the actions of a priest, we deeply deplore it. We'll do all we can to help such young people."