North Rhine-Westphalia: Essen priest transferred to lay status after abuse

Essen (dpa / lnw) - After decades of abuse of children and young people, an Essen priest who has already been convicted of criminal offenses in the past has been restored to the position of layman.

North Rhine-Westphalia: Essen priest transferred to lay status after abuse

Essen (dpa / lnw) - After decades of abuse of children and young people, an Essen priest who has already been convicted of criminal offenses in the past has been restored to the position of layman. This was announced by the diocese of Essen on Monday. The 75-year-old loses his church pension, which is comparable to a civil servant's pension, and only receives a significantly lower statutory pension. He has been banned from performing church services since 2010.

According to the diocese, the priest had sexually abused children in his congregations since his time as a chaplain in the 1970s, first in Bottrop and later in Essen. Because of the allegations of abuse, the clergyman was transferred to the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising in Bavaria in the early 1980s to undergo therapy there. There, however, the abuse continued at various stations in Munich and Garching, among others. In the mid-1980s, the cleric was given a suspended sentence for abuse.

A diocese spokesman said that a total of at least 28 people - mostly children and young people - were affected by the abuse cases in North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria. Canon lawsuits are still pending against the man.

In 2020, Ruhr Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck ordered the priest from Bavaria back to the Ruhr diocese in order to prevent possible further acts of abuse through close supervision of leadership. If the retired clergyman is no longer part of the clergy, "these efforts will not be able to be continued to the extent that is happening now. I am not without concern," wrote Bishop Overbeck, according to a statement to the Vatican.

The diocese offers the man the voluntary continuation of his extensive crime-oriented coaching at the diocese's expense for twelve months, said the diocese's intervention officer, Simon Friede. However, he is not sure whether the dismissed priest will accept this offer. He is now no longer subject to the Church's authority to issue directives.

Two of the priest's victims recently unveiled a memorial stone in front of the St. Cyriakus Church in Bottrop, where the abuse cases had begun. The initiators want to let the memorial stone wander and set it up for a few weeks at all the pastor's places of activity, as they announced.

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