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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Vatican gags sex scandal bishop
Bishop Klaus Kueng
Bishop Kueng says his purpose is to create new trust
An investigator sent by the Vatican to look into a sex scandal at seminary in Austria has banned the local bishop from talking to the media.

Bishop Klaus Kueng, who was named as investigator by Pope John Paul II, said the gagging order was necessary to halt the damage being done by the scandal.

Photographs have appeared in Austrian media of clerics at St Poelten seminary kissing and fondling student priests.

Local bishop Kurt Krenn caused outrage by describing the incidents as pranks.

The director of the Roman Catholic priests' training college and his assistant have already resigned, but Bishop Krenn has so far resisted calls by some of his congregation to quit his post.

The appointment of Bishop Kueng, of the Austrian city of Feldkirch, by the Pope followed a 27-year-old Polish student from the seminary being charged with the possession and distribution of child pornography.

The affair has shocked Austria and embarrassed the Catholic Church.

Bishop Kueng said his purpose was to "create new trust" in the Church, which has been rocked by a series of scandals.

"This business has done immense damage, not only to the diocese but much further afield," Bishop Kueng told Austrian media.

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