A former German bishop accused of physical abuse, alcoholism and sexual harassment apologized for his misconduct on Wednesday and agreed to stand by his decision to resign, the Associated Press reports.
Germany's Augsburg diocese said in a statement that it has reached a written agreement with the Rev. Water Mixa that his decision to step down as its Roman Catholic bishop is final.
In a separate letter by Mixa, which was published on the diocese's website Wednesday, he also apologized for his shortcomings without specifying them in detail.
Mixa, 69, who served the Augsburg diocese from 2005 to 2010, offered his resignation on April 22 after accusations surfaced that he had hit children decades ago as a priest and allegations of financial misconduct in the congregation.
Pope Benedict XVI accepted Mixa's resignation on May 8, but earlier this month the bishop said members of the Augsburg diocese and two German bishops had forced him to resign against his will. But earlier this week fresh allegations surfaced, including that Mixa had made sexual advances at two priests.
In neighboring Austria, the country's Catholic cardinal also took steps designed to put the church sex scandal behind it. Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn unveiled measures designed to prevent clerical abuse and help victims.
"The wall of silence has to be broken," he told reporters in Mariazell, a famous Austrian shrine to the Virgin Mary. "This is ... cannot be allowed to repeat itself."The measures — set to take effect July 1 and approved by all of Austria's bishops_ foresee a unified approach by church abuse complaint centers to probe and deal with allegations against priests and employees of church-run institutions.
In Germany, Wednesday's statements from Mixa and his diocese are the latest twist in the unusually public controversy surrounding his exit, which came at the height of the abuse scandal that rocked the church in Germany and elsewhere in the first half of the year.
The agreement between the diocese and Mixa states that the bishop "will not question his resignation again."
It also says that Mixa will move out of the bishop's residence, comply with the pope's invitation to meet with him in Rome, and will no longer hold anybody else responsible for having forced him to resign.
In his letter, Mixa asks for forgiveness for his "many mistakes," without naming them.
"I am not only apologizing, but also asking for forgiveness for everything I did not do right, and I am especially asking all those people for forgiveness who I did not treat the right way, whose expectations I did not fulfill, and who I disappointed," Mixa wrote.
Mixa's admission of misconduct and surprising turnaround comes only a week after he told Germany's Die Welt newspaper that he had been pressured by his peers to sign the letter of resignation, that he repealed the offer three day later, and that it was based on a sexual abuse claim that was later dropped.
Reacting to Mixa's earlier accusations, Germany's Roman Catholic bishops confirmed Tuesday that a secret file detailing alleged misconduct by a former bishop was sent to the Vatican before the pope accepted his resignation in May.
The bishops did not specify which accusations they were referring to, but the statement came the day after German media widely reported the secret file contains allegations that Mixa is an alcoholic and that two priests claim he made sexual advances toward them.