The diocese denies the “impression” in the newspaper’s report on Bätzing

According to press reports, the bishop of Limburg and chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK), Georg Bätzing, is under pressure to justify himself. The Diocese of Limburg criticized the position Wednesday, according to which Bätzing promoted a priest in his diocese to the district dean who had molested two women years ago. The text published in advance on Tuesday in the supplement “Christ und Welt” in the weekly “Die Zeit” gives the impression that “the bishop of Bätzing did not listen to the victims, took the side of the perpetrators and instead of imposing sanctions on them, he promoted the accused,” Diocese spokesman Stephan explained on Wednesday in Limburg Schnell.

“This impression must be denied,” Schnell said in a statement on the diocese’s website. Bätzing is “firmly committed to ensuring that there is a cultural shift in the Church, that victims are heard, that abuse is prevented, and that the perpetrators and acts are clearly mentioned.” This is evidenced by the project “Listen to the Afflicted – Prevent Abuses” in the Diocese of Limburg.

Bishop of Stuttgart Gebhard Fürst criticized Bätzing’s actions in the case described on Wednesday: “I am embarrassed and surprised. I don’t know the exact case. But I would never do something like that in my diocese, Fürst said at one of the Catholic Day press conferences. The head of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Irme Stetter-Karp, asked if Bätzing’s promotion “could be a mistake”.

“Insight and Regret”

Christ und Welt reported that “insight and repentance” were a prerequisite for the parish priest to appoint him district dean despite the charges. Bätzing previously warned a Limburg diocese priest about the harassment of two women in 2000 and 2007. A Catholic priest is said to have verbally and physically sexually harassed a Protestant pastor in a training course in 2000. The same pastor is said to have molested interns at a Catholic parish in 2006-2007. According to the diocesan spokesman, this diocese worker made a request in 2007 in the diocese that the priest, among other things, gave her favorite names and stroked her hair and back with his hand.

The diocese acted immediately. “The pastor was confronted with the allegations and made it clear that this behavior should be avoided,” said Schnelle. He added: “In 2013, a female employee publicized the allegation that a priest grabbed her by the chest under his shirt in 2007. The priest was also confronted with this allegation, but unlike the previous ones, he strongly denied it.”

Bätzing learned about the priest’s misconduct and the allegations only a few years after moving to the Diocese of Limburg – he was vicar general of Trier from November 2012, and became the bishop of Limburg in September 2016. Then he talked to the employee and the priest. “The bishop also confronted him in 2020 with a new charge, which related to a 2000 misdemeanor, and was brought against a priest,” said Schnelle. “Bätzing made it clear that he did not accept this behavior. He issued a prompt, a written warning. “


The priest apologized to the employee for his behavior, asked for forgiveness and showed “credible remorse.” “After reconsidering the allegations and further discussions, Bishop Georg Bätzing appointed the pastor to the district dean of one of the eleven districts of the diocese,” said Schnell. According to the spokesman for the diocese, the employee’s “disappointment and indignation” with this personnel decision is “understandable”. In a personal interview with an employee, Bätzing tried to convey this decision to her.

“When appointing the district dean, both the unrecognized offense of the priest and his conduct with him were taken into account, as well as the fact that the priests authorized to submit applications expressed a clear vote in favor of the priest’s appointment,” he stressed. Schnelle. Bätzing concluded that “it is possible to appoint a district dean”.

According to press reports, according to a city official, Bätzing said in a telephone interview that he had no choice. At the request of the Catholic Information Agency (KNA), Schnell said: “The bishop is not authorized to transmit the contents of this conversation.” The statute for the appointment of the poviat dean is publicly available. He reads that the bishop can “establish the appointment freely.” (KNA)

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