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Senior German priest resigns over handling of abuse claims

BERLIN — A senior Roman Catholic priest in Germany has been removed from office after criticism of his handling of abuse allegations against a seminary director in the Diocese of Limburg, the German Catholic Church said Tuesday.

Vicar General Wolfgang Roesch had asked Limburg’s bishop to relieve him of his duties following the publication of a report about the case of the Rev. Christof May. The priest and seminary head was found dead in June 2022 after being questioned as part of a probe into allegations of inappropriate behavior.

The Limburg Diocese said Bishop Georg Baetzing approved Roesch’s request with immediate effect.

In a statement, the diocese quoted Roesch as saying that he became aware in 2015 of allegations that May had acted inappropriately with adults. Roesch said he met with May and one of the accusers, describing the move as “a mistake.”

He also concluded that the allegations were untrue and failed to inform Baetzing of them before the bishop appointed May to head the seminary.

“This, too, was a mistake,” the diocese quoted Roesch as saying. “I ask forgiveness from all those who have been affected and hurt by my misconduct.”

Claudia Burgsmueller, who heads an independent commission tasked with investigating allegations of sexual abuse in the diocese, said Roesch’s resignation was a “positive sign” that mistakes in handling such cases would have consequences.


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