Priest Continues in Key Position in Vatican Despite Allegations of Sexual Assault

Another Catholic cleric has been kept on the job, this time in a key Vatican department, despite being accused of sexually violating a woman in the confessional. The allegations, reported months ago, describe an outrage that should have resulted in immediate action, starting with the priest’s suspension.

At a Nov. 27 event in Rome focused on giving voice to women survivors of clergy sexual abuse, Fr. Hermann Geissler was publicly accused of sexually assaulting a woman during confession in 2009. "He tried to keep me back and kiss me, but I fled from the confessional," Doris Wagner, the alleged victim, recalled.

Despite these very serious allegations, as of January 18 Fr. Geissler was still listed by the Vatican “as head of the doctrinal section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).”

The CDF is where bishops across the world send the abuse reports they receive. Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who will play a key role in the upcoming Feb. abuse summit at the Vatican, is the adjunct secretary for the CDF.

The safety of vulnerable parishioners is at stake here, as is the credibility of next month’s Vatican abuse meeting. How on earth can anyone have faith in that event when top Catholic officials refuse to act swiftly in such an egregious case?

Fr. Geissler should have been suspended back in November. The Vatican can correct this outrageous oversight by taking action now to remove the priest from ministry, as well as by investigating why this was not done earlier.  Those looking into these allegations should also publicly and aggressively solicit information from others who may have information relevant to their inquiry.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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