'Sacked' bishop fights back
Senior German cleric claims he was pressurised into resigning
A FORMER German bishop claimed last night that other members of the hierarchy pressed him to resign over abuse allegations and that he is considering mounting an appeal in the Vatican court to get his job back.
Bishop Walter Mixa's claims have prompted a chorus of angry rebuttals from both his former diocese in Augsburg and the archdiocese in nearby Munich, which said in a statement: "Everything was done according to the rules."
Bishop Mixa, who is the most prominent cleric within the German catholic hierarchy to lose his post in the country's spiralling abuse scandal, offered his resignation on April 22 over claims that he had beaten orphaned children decades ago as a priest.
He had initially denied the reports, only to add later that he may have slapped some children.
After he offered to resign, public prosecutors launched an investigation into an allegation of sexual abuse against Bishop Mixa, but ended up propping the case.
But now the former bishop said his resignation letter to Pope Benedict XVI was drafted by other clerics.
"The pressure under which I signed the pre-written resignation was similar to purgatory," Bishop Mixa said.
"Three days later, I repealed it in a letter to the Pope.
"During those days I was desperate, not knowing what to do," he added.
Nonetheless, the Pope accepted his resignation on May 8.
Bishop Mixa said he would talk to Pope Benedict next month about "how the situation should develop from here", adding that the Pope had invited him for the meeting.
He also said he was considering addressing the Pope's court of appeals.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi confirmed the Pope would receive Bishop Mixa in the coming weeks, but said the acceptance of his resignation as Augsburg bishop was not expected to be discussed.
Recourse to the Vatican court is possible, though the court is free to reject the case.