PRIEST ACQUITTED, MEDIA KEEPING SILENT
This accusation was put out by Doris Wagner-Reisinger saying that she had been abused sexually in 2009 in Rome during her confession. For media it was a very ‘attractive’ message as it was about a priest who was brought to Vatican by cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Hermann Geissler was born in Austria near Innsbruck in 1965. When he uncovered his vocation for priesthood, he joined a community of consecrated life ‘Das Werk’ (Familia Spiritualis Opus). His superiors appreciated him very soon as a talented young priest, educated in many areas – he began to work in the Congregation for Faith Teaching, with its prefect cardinal Ratzinger when he was only 27 and worked in this dicastery till the scandal broke out.
For me the issue of Fr. Geissler was also another personal dimension – agencies informed about accusations against him, with a photo taken by me and which was downloaded from internet without my permission. It was a portrait of Fr. Geissler at the background of a painting presenting cardinal Ratzinger. I took this photo when he was giving me an interview about his previous chief, that is, cardinal Ratzinger. In this way the person of the priest, who allegedly committed the abuse, was associated with the person of the retired pope.
In this situation on 28 January 2019, Fr. Geissler submitted his resignation to prefect of the congregation – cardinal Luis Ladarii Ferrero who accepted it. However, he explained that he resigned from his post ‘in order to reduce the size of harm which has already touched the congregation and its community’. He also emphasized that the accusations against him ‘are not true’, so he was waiting for the results of the canonic process in this issue. He also informed that in the future he would take ‘possible legal actions’.
Who is the previous nun who accused Fr. Geissler? A German woman Doris Wagner belonged to a nuns’ community ‘Das Werk’ to which also the priest belonged. According to her, she was allegedly sexually abused 10 years ago, in 2009, in Rome when she was attending a confession with Fr. Geissler. In the nuns’ community problems with the nun had begun much earlier – in 2008 it was found out that she had had a love affair and had had a sexual intercourse with her co-brother – Fr. B. finally, in October 2011 she gave up the community which happened without a conflict. The situation changed in 2012 when the former nun began a media and legal campaign. She began to show her life story in the perspective of ‘abuses, violence and manipulations’. In 2012 and 2013 she accused Fr. B. of sexual abuse, but also in Germany and in Austria her accusations were judged as unjustified. Despite that Wagner began to take part in conferences, she published a book in which she tells her story and she performed in a film ‘Female Pleasure’, in which she criticizes Church and demands radical changes in its moral teaching. Today Doris Wagner-Reisinger lives in Wiesbaden in Germany with a former priest to whom she got married and have one child.
On 15 May 2019, after the canonical process, the Supreme Tribunal of Apostolic Signature acquitted Fr. Hermann Geissler. The purpose of the process was explaining whether the priest had committed the abuse of persuading for the sin against the sixth commitment during a confession (see the Codes of canonical law, can. 1387). According to the decision of the very Pope, it was not the Congregation for Faith Teaching, competent in these issues, which was dealing with the issue of Fr. Geissler, who had worked in this dicastery for 25 years, but it was the Supreme Tribunal of Apostolic Signature. For, the competences of this tribunal involves, among the others, investigating issues ordered by Pope (apostolic constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’ about the Roman curia, art. 123 § 3). After the investigation, according to the can. 1717 five judges of the Signature was investigating the issue, and at a meeting on 15 May 2019 it decided that Fr. Geissler had not committed any abuse of which he had been accused. The verdict was passed over to the priest in a letter, signed by cardinal Dominique Mamberti – a prefect of the tribunal and bishop Giuseppe Sciacca – a secretary. Briefly speaking, Fr. Geissler was acquitted and there is no appeal from the decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Apostolic Signature.
Unfortunately, this news was completely ignored by media, as information about false accusations put out against the priest and his acquitting by the supreme judicial instance of the Holy See is not ‘good news’ for them.
The scandal from Doris Wagner is another case proving that the former nun decided to fight against Church after her leaving the nuns’ community and is using any possible manipulation and media for this purpose.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 23/2019 (9 VI 2019)