Vatican doctrinal official steps down amid investigation of solicitation

Catholic News Service

January 30, 2019

An Austrian priest under canonical investigation stepped down as an official at the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in an effort “to limit the damage already done to the congregation and to his community,” the doctrinal office said.

The priest, Father Hermann Geissler, “affirms that the accusation made against him is untrue and asks that the canonical process already initiated continue. He also reserves the right for possible civil legal action,” the office said in a note released by the Vatican press office on 29 January.

The 53-year-old theologian, who is a member of a community called The Spiritual Family The Work, submitted his resignation on 28 January to the prefect, Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, who then granted his request. He had worked at the congregation for 25 years and had been head of its doctrinal section since 2009.

Doris Wagner-Reisinger, a German theologian, told the National Catholic Reporter on 21 January that, with the help of a canon lawyer, she reported to doctrinal congregation officials in 2014 that the priest had propositioned her in 2009 during confession — a serious crime reserved to the doctrinal congregation for judgment.

She told NCR that after her accusation, “I got a response that stated that Father Geissler had admitted, and had asked pardon, and was admonished.”

She had talked about the unwanted encounter at a November event in Rome, which featured three women survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

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