German priest arrested, accused of child abuse: police

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 17, 2011 7:04 PM
German priest arrested, accused of child abuse: police

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German Catholic priest has been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing a child, police said Sunday.

"The accused priest has admitted the allegations made against him in police questioning," police in the city of Braunschweig said on their website.

The news comes days after the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, one of the countries worst affected in a series of abuse scandals in Europe last year, said it would open its files to independent investigators, allowing a search as far back as 1945.

Police arrested the priest after the alleged victim's mother pressed charges, Der Spiegel magazine said on its website.

The alleged abuse took place several years ago and investigations had been running since early July. Police moved forward the arrest -- initially planned for next week -- as the priest was about to go on a trip with minors organised by the church, according to the magazine.

The prosecutor's office was not immediately available for comment.

Some 180,000 Germans left the Catholic Church in 2010, a 40 percent jump over the previous year, as allegations priests sexually abused children for decades shook the faith, according to a study published in April.

The number of people quitting the Church surpassed the total of those leaving main Protestant churches for the first time in postwar Germany, the study by the magazine Christ & Welt said.

German-born Pope Benedict is due to visit his homeland in September to deliver a speech to parliament in Berlin and tour Erfurt in eastern Germany and Freiburg in the southwest.

(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt; Editing by Myra MacDonald)