Bishop Says Porn Scandal Overblown

Chicago Sun-Times
July 27, 2004

VIENNA, Austria -- A bishop who oversees a Roman Catholic seminary where a vast cache of child pornography was discovered argued that the scandal had been overblown in comments published Monday.

"It is portrayed as if we have a giant saga to come to grips with, and that's not the case," the Upper Austria daily Neues Volksblatt quoted Bishop Kurt Krenn as saying. "What has been found is a student who had done something."

The Vatican has sent a special inspector to investigate the St. Poelten diocese, where authorities found about 40,000 photos and numerous videos, including child pornography, on seminary computers. Photos of candidates for the priesthood kissing and fondling each other also have been found, and some were published in Austrian media.

Authorities investigating the child pornography aspect of the case have charged a 27-year-old former seminary student from Poland with possessing and distributing illicit material, a federal offense punishable by up to two years in prison.

Krenn, in charge of the diocese in St. Poelten, located 50 miles west of Vienna, has been under intense pressure to resign because of the scandal. But he has refused to step down.

The Vatican investigation is expected to take all summer, and the trial of the former student is expected to begin in six to eight weeks.


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