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Bishop Mixa meets Pope, agrees to quiet retirement

July 01, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI directed a troubled German bishop to “retire for a time of silence, meditation, and prayer” during a private meeting on July 1.

The Pope with Bishop Walter Mixa, the former head of the Augsburg diocese, at the German prelate’s request. Bishop Mixa had offered his resignation in April, and the Pope accepted it in May. But earlier this month Bishop Mixa charged that he had submitted the resignation under duress, and hoped to retract it. He changed his mind again, and agreed to step down quietly, after German media outlets carried reports based on a “secret dossier” that the German hierarchy had sent to Rome, depicting Bishop Mixa as severely alcoholic and “out of touch with reality;” the dossier also revived old charges of sexual abuse, which Bishop Mixa had previously denied.

After the Pope’s meeting with the German bishop, the Vatican released a statement saying that Bishop Mixa’s resignation had been “definitively confirmed.” The statement added that “he also recognised that he had made mistakes and committed errors which led to a loss of trust and made his resignation inevitable.”

After a period of “cure and reconciliation,” Bishop Mixa may engage in pastoral work once again, subject to the approval of his successor, the Vatican said.

The Vatican statement acknowledges that Bishop Mixa’s status was the subject of an ugly dispute within the German hierarchy, referring to “often excessive polemics” in the case. The statement conveys Pope Benedict’s wish for “reconciliation, for a new and reciprocal acceptance in the spirit of mercy,” and for the other German bishops “to offer Bishop Mixa, more than in the past, their friendship and closeness, their understanding, and their help to find the right path.”


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