German priest found dead after suspension over abuse probe

BERLIN (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest in Germany was found dead a day after he was questioned and suspended as part of an investigation into abuse allegations, church officials said Friday.

The Diocese of Limburg said in a statement that the head of its seminary was found dead Thursday. It didn’t provide details on his cause of death but said the priest, whom it didn’t identify, had held roles of responsibility within the diocese for several years.

The diocese said that the priest’s death “hits us hard, causes consternation and bewilderment, and raises many questions.”

“He had been heard in a personal interview on Wednesday, June 8, regarding allegations of inappropriate behavior, as required by the relevant church regulations,” the diocese said. “Bishop Georg Baetzing subsequently released him from all offices in order to be able to examine and clarify the accusations.”

The diocese added that its sympathy was with the the priest’s family. “At the same time, our thoughts are also with those who reported the allegations,” it said, without elaborating.

Earlier this week, the Limburg diocese announced that a former priest had been convicted in a church trial of sexually abusing a minor over several years almost three decades ago and was ordered to pay a fine.

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