German priest arrested on abuse suspicion - magazine

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 17, 2011 10:03 AM
German priest arrested on abuse suspicion - magazine

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police have arrested a Catholic priest on suspicion of sexually abusing a child, Der Spiegel magazine reported on its website, citing the prosecutor's office.

The news of the arrest 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.

Joachim Geyer, spokesman for the prosecutor's office in Braunschweig, said an arrest warrant had been issued against the priest. The alleged victim's mother had pressed charges, according to the weekend report on magazine's website.

The case 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 organized by the church.

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 post-war 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 Sophie Hares)