The death of a high-ranking priest shook the Limburg diocese of Bishop Georg Bätzing. The churchman had previously been accused of encroaching behavior.

The head of the seminary in the diocese of Limburg has been found dead. The diocese announced this on Friday without giving any details about the circumstances of the priest’s death.

The priest was heard on Wednesday by Bishop Georg Bätzing in connection with allegations of abusive behavior and was provisionally released from his offices. This is intended by the ecclesiastical regulations in order to be able to examine and clarify the allegations. The diocese gave no details on the allegations made.

A day later, the high-ranking priest was then discovered dead. Several media had previously reported on the death of Regens Christof May, citing an internal email from the diocese.

A police spokesman confirmed that a man was found dead near Limburg on Thursday morning. A death investigation has been initiated. According to current knowledge, the investigators are assuming a suicide. The police would neither deny nor confirm the name of the priest.

“Death leaves many questions”

“The events are shaking us in the diocese of Limburg and far beyond,” the diocese said. “Death hits us hard, causes dismay and bewilderment and leaves many questions.”

The priest, who came from the Westerwald, had held responsible offices for years. He had headed the seminary in the Limburg diocese since autumn 2018. In December 2019 he also became canon of the diocese. The cathedral chapter is a body of seven priests who assist the bishop in the administration of the diocese. The Limburg Bishop Bätzing is also the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference.

The diocese expressed its condolences to the family of the deceased. “At the same time, our thoughts are with those who reported the allegations,” it said. “We will do everything we can to stand together in the diocese in this truly challenging situation.”

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