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Pope Accepts German Bishop's Resignation

Pope Benedict on Saturday accepted the resignation of a German bishop who has been accused of sexually abusing minors. Bishop Walter Mixa is the latest in a string of Roman Catholic prelates forced to resign over a clerical sex abuse scandal that has been rocking the church.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday accepted the resignation of a leading bishop from his German homeland who is accused of abusing children and alleged financial misconduct at a children's home.

A Vatican statement said the pope agreed Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg in Bavaria should step down. He is the first bishop to quit in the pope's native Germany over the clerical sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Church in several European countries and the United States.

Bishop Mixa was an outspoken conservative voice in the German church and a military chaplain in his country. He had already admitted to slapping children decades ago when he was a priest. But pressure increased for him to step down when prosecutors revealed an investigation was underway into his involvement in an alleged case of sexual abuse.

A spokesman for the diocese of Eichstaett said the accusations referred to a time between 1996 and 2000 when Mixa was bishop of Eichstaett, in Bavaria. A German newspaper has reported that Mixa is accused, not only of slapping children, but also of abusing a boy while bishop of Eichstaett.

Mixa's lawyer has denied the accusations against the 69-year old bishop and said Mixa would work with prosecutors to clear up the matter.

The German bishop is the latest in a line of churchmen to be toppled in the clerical sex abuse scandal that has engulfed the Catholic Church. In recent weeks, a Belgian bishop also resigned after admitting he had sexually abused a boy and three Irish bishops quit over their handling of sexual abuse cases.

A survey published last month found a quarter of Germany's Catholics were considering leaving the church over the abuse allegations. The matter is one of the most serious crises affecting the Roman Catholic Church in modern times and has caused huge concern to Pope Benedict, who was elected five years ago, shortly after speaking of the need to clean up the problems in the church.