Pontiff's friend accused of flogging orphans in care
A CLOSE friend and ally of Pope Benedict XVI has been accused of beating children in his care.
Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg is facing claims he flogged and hit former pupils at a Catholic orphanage in Germany 30 years ago.
The bishop, who was appointed by the Pope in 2005, is a controversial figure who has tried to explain paedophilia in the church by claiming the sexual liberation movement must share a "significant" part of the blame.
He is accused of using a carpet beater on the bare skin of boys and girls as he screamed: "Satan is in you and I must drive him out."
Five alleged victims from the orphanage, in the village of Schrobenhausen, have claimed he also used a stick, a wooden spoon and, when that broke, his fists.
Nuns of the Mallersdorf order, who worked for him at the St Josef children's home in Schrobenhausen, also hit the children with "wooden brooms, wooden shoes, and clothing hangers", they said.
Hildegard Sedlmair (48) said she was beaten by him when she was 15. She said the time spent at the home, for children with family difficulties, "was the worst of my life". A man who refused to be identified told Germany's Sueddeutsche newspaper: "A minimum of 50 times in one year he made me drop my trousers and beat me on my behind with a carpet beater or a stick, really, really hard."
As a young cleric, Bishop Mixa (68) was friendly with the then Cardinal Ratzinger in Germany. A spokeswoman for the Bishopric of Augsburg said: "These are absurd and defamatory statements."
The orphanage has been under different management since 1999. The claims came as the Vatican prepared to attack attempts by US lawyers to drag the Pope before a court to answer questions on the sex abuse scandal. (©Daily Telegraph, London)