VATICAN CITY, JULY 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today met with the former bishop of Augsburg, Germany, confirming the prelate’s retirement, which came amid accusations he physically abused orphans in the 1970s.
Bishop Walter Mixa, 69, presented his resignation last April 21 from the Diocese of Augsburg and Germany’s military ordinariate. Two weeks later, the Pope accepted his request.
Further accusations surfaced regarding sexual abuse and financial mismanagement. Augsburg prosecutors cleared him of the sexual abuse allegations in May after an investigation. Then the bishop again made news last month when an alleged Vatican file regarding the prelate was made public, detailing accusations of sexual harassment and alcoholism.
Today’s Vatican announcement after the meeting with the Pope confirmed Bishop Mixa’s retirement and stated he will “retire for a time of silence, meditation and prayer and, following a period of cure and reconciliation will, like other bishops emeritus, be available for pastoral duties, with the agreement of his successor.”
The communiqué reported that Bishop Mixa said he “always sought to carry out his episcopal ministry willingly and conscientiously but, with all sincerity, he also recognized that he had made mistakes and committed errors which led to a loss of trust and made his resignation inevitable.”
Bishop Mixa once again “requested forgiveness,” the communiqué affirmed, adding that the Holy Father hopes “this request for forgiveness will find open ears and open hearts.”
The Vatican pointed to a period of “often excessive polemics” in the case, and said that following this, the Holy Father is hoping for “reconciliation, for a new and reciprocal acceptance in the spirit of mercy of the Lord and in faithful abandonment to his guidance.”
He also called on his brother bishops to offer the retired prelate “more than in the past, their friendship and closeness, their understanding, and their help to find the right path.”
The communiqué concluded with a message for the faithful of Augsburg, with the Pontiff calling on them to “favor mutual communion and to welcome with open hearts the prelate he will appoint as Bishop Mixa’s successor.”
“In a time of contrasts and insecurity,” the statement said, “the world expects Christians to show harmonious witness on the basis of their encounter with the risen Lord, with which they help one another and the whole of society to find the right path to the future.”