German bishop faces allegations of physical punishment

According to allegations published Wednesday in a German newspaper, leading Catholic bishop Walter Mixa physically abused children in a church orphanage three decades ago. The bishop's office has denied the accusations.

The German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung published a report on its website on Wednesday alleging that Bishop Walter Mixa had "slapped, punched or spanked the behinds of boys and girls who had misbehaved" at an orphanage in the southern town of Schrobenhausen in the 1970s.

Germany | 30.03.2010

The newspaper said three women and two men had given statements under oath that Mixa had beaten them repeatedly.

One of the women, a 47-year-old who asked to remain unidentified, confirmed the report on Wednesday, telling the German Press Agency that she had been punched while at the orphanage.

"They were blows to the face with the palm of his hand or his fist," she said.

Germany | 28.03.2010

Mixa is the first German bishop against whom allegations of abuse have surfaced. So far, a number of German priests have been accused of sexually abusing hundreds of children in their care.

Mixa has been bishop of Augsburg for five years

Mixa rejects allegations

The office of Mixa has strongly rejected the claims.

"At no time and in none of his functions has Bishop Mixa ever maltreated children. [These allegations] are absurd, untrue, and evidently concocted with the aim of personally discrediting the bishop," said spokeswoman Kathi Marie Ulrich.

Mixa was parish priest in Schrobenhausen from 1975 to 1996, when he was appointed bishop of Eichstaett. Since 2005, he has been bishop of Augsburg.

In response to the allegations, several church and lay organizations have demanded that Mixa take steps to quickly clear his name.

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Editor: Susan Houlton