BERLIN — A German priest has been suspended and ordered home from a posting in the United States as he faces allegations he sexually abused teenage girls in Germany two decades ago, church officials said yesterday.
The Roman Catholic diocese of Mainz in southwestern Germany said it had informed prosecutors in Darmstadt of the abuse accusations.
It gave little detail but said there was no suggestion that he sexually abused children under the age of 14.
The priest has most recently been working at the German Catholic Mission in Washington, D.C. Church authorities did not identify him.
The Mainz diocese and the German bishops conference said in a joint statement the suspended priest is suspected of “having had sexual relations in the late ’80s and early ’90s with female youths and young women who had confided to him in his capacity as a pastor.’’
One person reported abuse to the Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests, to which the priest belongs, for help as early as 2004, the statement said.
But the Schoenstatt Institute leadership at the time did not inform the diocese, the statement said.
Instead, the group, citing a previous relationship between the priest and a woman, asked the bishop of Mainz to grant him “time to reflect’’ and proposed that he be sent abroad, it added.
The priest is back in Germany.
Meanwhile, a prominent German bishop accused of physical abuse of children decades ago and of financial misconduct offered an apology yesterday.
“I am pained in my heart and sorry for causing many people grief,’’ Bishop Walter Mixa said in a statement without specifying what he meant .
Material from the Washington Post was used in this report.