Mainz Auxiliary Bishop Quits "for Good of the Church"

Move Doesn´t Signal Guilt in Wake of Abuse Allegation, Say Cardinals

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2002 ( John Paul II accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Franziskus Eisenbach of Mainz, Germany, who had been accused by a woman of sexual abuse.

The Vatican explained that the bishop´s resignation does not mean he is guilty. Bishop Eisenbach has maintained all along that he is innocent.

In September 2000, professor Anne Baeumer-Schleinkofer denounced the bishop in court, claiming sexual abuse and bodily damage. The case was dismissed.

At the same time, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began its own investigation of the accusations.

A press statement, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, explained today that the results of the investigation were presented to the ordinary assembly of cardinals of the doctrine congregation.

«After diligent pondering of the case, the assembly decided to request the bishop to resign his ministry,» the statement explains.

«The Holy Father approved this decision in an audience granted to the secretary of the congregation on March 1, 2002, and on March 20 the prefects of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and for Bishops personally transmitted this decision to Bishop Eisenbach during a conversation,» the cardinals explain.

«The fact that the bishop resigned from his post cannot be interpreted as a confession of guilt,» Cardinals Ratzinger and Re emphasized in their statement. Rather, it is a decision made «for the good of the Church and the clarity of its witness,» they said.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, president of the German episcopal conference, lamented Bishop Eisenbach´s resignation, calling it a «grave loss» for his diocese.

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