German bishop resigns after abuse accusations

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of a German bishop  who has been accused of sexually abusing minors.

A Vatican statement on Saturday said the Pope agreed Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg in Bavaria should step down. He is the first bishop to quit in Germany over the child abuse issue.

In April,  Bishop Mixa, 69, offered to step down after being accused of hitting children during the 1970s and 1980s.  He has publicly apologised for "any hurt" he may have caused. On Friday church and civil authorities announced that they were now investigating accusations of sexual abuse by the bishop.

A spokesman for the diocese of Eichstaett said the accusations referred to a time between 1996 and 2000 when Mixa was bishop of Eichstaett. 

Mixa's lawyer, Gerhard Decker, has denied the accusations against the bishop, who also faces allegations of financial misconduct.

On Saturday,  Belgian bishops concluded a week-long visit to the Vatican. In a press conference they spoke of the pain caused by the scandal which led to the resignation last month of the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe. He stepped down after admitting he had sexually abused a boy when in charge of the diocese of Bruges. The case was the first to be made public in Belgium.  A church commission is now investigating about 20 more allegations of sex abuse in the country.

In his speech to the Belgian bishops, Pope Benedict said their church had been "tested by sin."