Pope intervenes in seminary sex scandal in Austria

The Vatican Press Office announced this Tuesday that Pope John Paul II has appointed an apostolic visitator to probe the sex scandal that has rocked the seminary of St Poelten in Austria.

The brief statement said the Pope had named Bishop Klaus Kung of the Austrian city of Feldkirch to look into the problems of the Austrian diocese of St Poelten and “in particular” the seminary.

Austria was shocked after a national magazine revealed that police investigators have found child pornography in the seminary computers. The magazine also ran pictures of priests kissing students.

Austrian prosecutors said on Monday that they found child pornography on the seminary's main computer and on one owned by a 27-year-old seminarian from Poland, who could be jailed for up to two years if convicted.

Vienna Archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said the Pope had acted quickly and called it an “extraordinary measure.”

The Vienna Archdiocese also said in a statement that the investigator would also look into the “the entire conduct in office of Bishop Krenn, as well as all diocese establishments, on the authority of the Pope.”

Meanwhile, Fr. Wolfgang Rothe, former deputy director of the seminary, vowed Monday to fight for “truth, justice and honor” and clear his name.

Rothe resigned along with the seminary's director after the scandal broke, but he contended he was the victim of an “unimaginable” smear campaign.

“The confidence and encouragement of numerous people who know me have given me the strength after days of deepest despair and darkness to fight for truth, justice and honor,” he said.

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