Vatican Makes Bishop Resign in Sex-During-Exorcism Case
By Desmond Butler
New York Times
April 19, 2002
BERLIN, April 18 — The Vatican has made a Roman Catholic bishop resign more than 18 months after a female university professor accused him of sexual abuse while performing an exorcism.
The bishop, Franziskus Eisenbach of the Mainz Archdiocese, had denied her accusation, and a criminal investigation was dropped for lack of evidence.
But Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the conservative German who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, informed Bishop Eisenbach, 58, on March 20 that his resignation would be requested and that there would be no punitive proceedings, according to a statement signed by Cardinal Ratzinger and released on Tuesday.
The cardinal's office was recently given responsibility for reviewing all accusations of sexual abuse against priests anywhere in the world, and it reached its findings in Bishop Eisenbach's case after a three-month inquiry, according to newspaper reports here.
In the United States, the church faces a storm of accusations of covering up sexual abuse by priests, a scandal that prompted the Vatican to announce this week that the pope was summoning American cardinals to Rome for meetings.
The bishop's accuser, Änne Bäumer-Schleinkofer, a mathematics professor at the University of Mainz, registered her complaints with German prosecutors and the Vatican in September 2000. Professor Bäumer-Schleinkofer said she sought to consult the church in 1999 over "visions" that came "directly from God."
A spokesman for the Archdiocese, Jürgen Strickstrock, told Reuters that the bishop had tried to help the woman exorcise her demons and convert to Catholicism. She was a Protestant.
In the summer of 2000, contact between the two ceased, said a report in The Frankfurter Allgemeine. In September, the archdiocese issued a statement that referred obliquely to bodily contact between the bishop and Professor Bäumer-Schleinkofer, but explained nothing.