Fr. Federico Lombardi released a statement from the Holy See’s Press Office confirming the report by a Norwegian television network that a bishop who stepped down last June had sexually abused a minor in the 1990s. The Vatican spokesman said that the matter “was confronted and examined quickly” after it came to light in January 2009.
The former Bishop of the Prelature of Trondheim, Norway, Georg Mueller, admitted to the Norwegian state television network NRK that the reason for his resignation in June 2009 was his sexual involvement with a minor before he became the head of the prelature, Italy’s ANSA news reported on Wednesday.
Fr. Lombardi confirmed the accuracy of the information released by the Bishop of Oslo and Apostolic Administrator of Trondheim, Bernt Eidsvig, concerning the situation.
Lombardi said that after ecclesiastical authorities became aware of the matter in Jan. 2009, “the matter was confronted and examined quickly through the Nunciature of Stockholm, by mandate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
In May, the bishop tendered his resignation, which the Vatican spokesman notes was accepted immediately by Pope Benedict XVI. Bishop Mueller left the diocese officially in June and went into therapy. Fr. Lombardi confirmed that he is no longer carrying out pastoral activities.
The statement from the Holy See also said that by Norwegian law the case has surpassed the statute of limitations and that the victim has always asked to remain anonymous.
Italian news reports quote Bishop Eidsvig as having said that “even if the case can no longer be the object of an investigation” by Norwegian law, the law of the Church remains valid and this is the reason for which today Mueller won’t recover any position.”
Bishop Mueller was the head of the prelature of Trondheim from 1997-2009.