Page last updated at 11:20 GMT, Saturday, 8 May 2010 12:20 UK

Pope accepts German bishop's resignation

Bishop Walter Mixa (file image)
Bishop Mixa told the Pope he was "fully aware" of his "weaknesses"

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of a German bishop accused of hitting children, the Vatican said.

Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg said in his resignation letter last month that his diocese needed a "new start".

The bishop at first denied hitting children at an orphanage in the 1970s and 1980s, but later apologised.

On Friday, prosecutors said they were investigating allegations of sexual abuse by Bishop Mixa, whose lawyer said he denied the claims.

The Catholic Church has come under severe pressure over child sexual abuse allegations emerging across the world in recent weeks.

'Causing grief'

A short Vatican announcement on Saturday cited no reason for accepting Bishop Mixa's resignation.

On Friday, the Augsburg diocese said in a statement it had provided information to prosecutors over allegations involving the bishop, and prosecutors confirmed that a preliminary investigation had been launched.

The Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper reported that Bishop Mixa was accused of sexually abusing a boy while bishop of Eichstaett.

A spokesman for the diocese of Eichstaett in Bavaria said the accusations related to the period of 1996-2000.

Bishop Mixa's lawyer, Gerhard Decker, said his client denied the accusations.

The Church has also set up an investigation into alleged financial irregularities at a children's home which was under Bishop Mixa's responsibility, amid reports that large sums of money had been spent on antique paintings, garden furniture and wine.

After denying the accusations of physical abuse for weeks, Bishop Mixa issued an apology, saying he was "sorry for causing many people grief", without elaborating.

Then, in his letter to the Pope, he asked for the forgiveness "of all those to whom I may have been unfair and to those who I may have caused heartache".

He said he was "fully aware" of his own "weaknesses".

This story was corrected on 10 May 2010 to reflect the fact that Bishop Mixa had been accused of sexual abuse, as well as physical abuse.

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