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German bishop offers to quit over child abuse claims
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German Roman Catholic bishop in Pope Benedict's native Bavaria has offered to resign after being accused of hitting children, his diocese said on Thursday.
Bishop Walter Mixa, who also faces allegations of financial misconduct, wrote to the pope offering his resignation, according to the Augsburg diocese in the predominantly Catholic state of Bavaria.
"With his resignation, he wants to avert further damage to the Church and to allow a new start," the diocese said in a statement.
Mixa denied for weeks that he had hit children in the 1970s and 1980s before later admitting he had slapped them. Some victims say he hit them with full force in the face.
The Vatican made no immediate comment on his resignation offer. German Family Minister Kristina Schroeder welcomed the move, telling ZDF television she respected Mixa's decision.
The diocese quoted Mixa as saying: "Today I again ask for forgiveness from all those to whom I may have been unfair and from all those I caused heartache."
Mixa has not been accused of sexual abuse.
A survey published earlier this month found that a quarter of Germany's Catholics were considering quitting the Church in the wake of reports of hundreds of cases, some many decades old, of sexual abuse by clerics.
Pope Benedict said last Thursday the sexual abuse scandal shaking Roman Catholicism showed the Church needed to do penance for its sins.
Last week, a vandal spray-painted an abusive message on the house in southern Germany in which the pontiff was born. Police said the message seemed to be linked to the abuse scandals that have engulfed the Church.
(Reporting by Thomas Krumenacker, writing by Paul Carrel)
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