VATICAN CITY, May 10 (UPI) -- Vienna's Catholic archbishop has accused a top papal aide of having covered up sex abuse allegedly committed by the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer.
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn this past weekend accused Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a former Vatican secretary of state, of having headed off probes into the alleged sexual abuse by Groer, who had been Schonborn's predecessor in Vienna, The Times of London reported Monday. Sodano is one of Pope Benedict XVI's closest advisers.
Schonborn, who once studied under Benedict and is considered a possible candidate to eventually replace him, also said Sodano, who as head of the College of Cardinals would play a key role in the election of the next pope, caused "massive harm" to victims of priest sex abuse by denigrating their claims as "petty gossip."
Schonborn's comments were made to reporters and published by the Catholic news agency Kathpress.
In 1995, a former seminary student charged that Groer had abused him repeatedly in the early 1970s. Groer, dogged by other allegations as well, died in 2003 without admitting any wrongdoing.
Schonborn lauded Benedict for having pushed for sex abuse inquiries before becoming pope in 2005.
On Saturday, Benedict accepted the resignation of German Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg. Mixa was accused of striking children and The Times said he also was being investigated for alleged sex abuse while bishop of Eichstaett. The cleric's attorney has denied the accusations.