German priest found dead after suspension over abuse investigation

BERLIN — A Roman Catholic priest in Germany was found dead a day after being interrogated and suspended as part of an investigation into allegations of abuse, church officials said on Friday.

The Diocese of Limburg said in a statement that the head of its seminary was found dead on Thursday. He said the priest held positions of responsibility within the diocese for several years.

The diocese said the priest’s death “hits us hard, causes consternation and perplexity and raises many questions”.

“He was heard in a personal interview on Wednesday, June 8, regarding allegations of inappropriate behavior as required by relevant church regulations,” the diocese said. “Bishop Georg Baetzing subsequently released him from all offices in order to examine and clarify the charges.”

The diocese added that its solidarity was with the priest’s family. “At the same time, our thoughts are also with those who reported the allegations,” he said, without elaborating.

Earlier this week, the diocese of Limburg announced that a former priest had been convicted in a church trial of sexually abusing a minor over several years, nearly three decades ago, and was ordered to pay a fine.

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