German bishop tenders resignation to pope over abuse

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One of Germany's top bishops tendered his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday after admitting hitting children, saying he hoped his actions would allow a "new start" for the embattled Church.

The bishop of Augsburg in southern Germany, Walter Mixa, who is also bishop of the German military, offered to quit in a letter to the German-born pontiff sent on Wednesday.

"I am and have been fully aware of my own weaknesses," the bishop wrote in a letter published on the website of the Augsburg diocese.

"I ask forgiveness from everyone I may have acted wrongly towards and from everyone I may have caused harm to," he added.

The continued public debate about his wrongdoings had damaged the Church in the diocese in recent weeks and he was taking this step to prevent further damage and allow a "new start," he wrote.

It was not clear if Pope Benedict would automatically accept the resignation, media reports said.

Mixa at first rebuffed accusations that he beat children at a Roman Catholic orphanage in the 1970s and 1980s, but he has since admitted the abuse and on Tuesday publicly asked for forgiveness.

He is not accused of any sexual abuse, however.

The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked in recent months by ballooning sexual abuse scandal, with hundreds of people coming forward in Germany and other countries around the world saying they were molested by predatory priests.

© 2010 AFP

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