German bishop apologises over paedophile priest

BERLIN Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:06pm BST

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German Catholic bishop apologised on Friday for reinstating a convicted child molester priest who was charged with a similar crime last month.

Peter Kramer, a priest in the Bavarian town of Riekofen, was arrested on August 30 on suspicion of sexually abusing a minor.

He was convicted of child molestation in 2000, but underwent therapy, received a clean bill of mental health and was reinstated by Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller in 2004.

"I would like to express my deepest regret and sympathy towards those children who have been mentally scarred and their parents," Mueller, bishop of the Bavarian city of Regensburg told a news conference.

"We promise them every imaginable assistance," he said.

Residents of Riekofen were angry that they were not told about Kramer's criminal history and the town's mayor accused Mueller of covering up the priest's past, German media reported.

The Catholic Church has faced abuse allegations around the world in recent years. In Britain, the United States and Ireland, Catholic bishops have admitted to mishandling cases of sexual abuse by priests in their diocese.

The Vatican could not immediately be reached for comment on the Kramer case.