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Pope names investigator for Austrian sex scandal

Pope John Paul has named a special investigator to look into a sex scandal that has rocked the Austrian Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

A 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 at the centre of a scandal of sexual impropriety.

The Vatican calls such investigators apostolic visitors. They are entrusted with looking into specific problems and reporting back to the Vatican.

Predominantly Catholic Austria has been shocked by its worst Church scandal in a decade, another blow for the Roman Catholic Church which has been shaken by a series of sexual abuse scandals across the world.

News magazine Profil published photographs this month of clerics at the seminary fondling and kissing student priests.

Austrian prosecutors on Monday charged a seminarian with downloading child pornography from the Internet and said he was not the only person at the seminary to have done so.

Prosecutors in the city west of Vienna said 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.

St Poelten Bishop Kurt Krenn, responsible for the seminary, has refused calls from some Catholics to resign because of the scandal.

The director of the seminary and his assistant have already resigned.

In 1995 Profil published charges that Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, then head of Austria's Catholic Church, had sexually abused boys. The Vatican replaced him months later and he retired to a monastery.

Source : Vatican City - Reuters


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