[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Austria probes priest sex claims
The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by child abuse scandals
An investigation is under way in Austria after media reports of sexual misconduct at a Roman Catholic seminary at St Poelten, west of Vienna.

According to the reports, priests were photographed fondling and kissing trainee priests and pornographic images were found on the seminary computers.

The school director and his deputy have resigned.

The Austrian Bishops' Conference has promised a full and swift internal investigation.

"Anything that has to do with the practice of homosexuality or pornography has no place at a seminary for priests," it said.


Austrian news magazine Profil published the pictures of the alleged abuse at St Poelten, about 80km (50 miles) west of the capital, Vienna.

It also reported that a police investigation had uncovered as many as 40,000 images and videos - some allegedly including child pornography - on computers at the seminary.

That investigation began after allegations of child sexual abuse against the director of the seminary, Ulrich Kuechl. He has resigned but denies the allegations.

Now his deputy Wolfgang Rothe has also stepped down following the latest allegations of sexual misconduct.

Bishop Kurt Krenn, who is in charge of the St Poelten diocese, has dismissed the pictures as "childish pranks" - and called the allegations of sexual misconduct "groundless".

But the scandal is not likely to die down - with some officials in the diocese asking the Vatican to remove Bishop Krenn, whose remarks have caused an uproar in the mainly Roman Catholic country.

"Collecting child pornography cannot be dismissed as a prank," said Thomas Huber, a Green Party politician, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

The opposition Socialists have called for a full criminal investigation.

The police have disclosed no details on their inquiries.

Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer resigned in 1998 amid allegations that he had molested young boys.

The BBC's David Willis
"Filing for bankruptcy lifts the imminent threat of additional lawsuits"

Massive church closures in Boston
27 May 04  |  Americas
Timeline: Boston sex scandal
13 Dec 02  |  Americas
Vatican bars US sex abuse priest
07 May 04  |  Americas
Vatican sued in sex abuse cases
04 Apr 02  |  Americas

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific