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Head of Limburg Seminary Found Dead After Abuse Allegations

The 49-year-old director of the Limburg Catholic seminary, Christof May, was found dead in his apartment on the morning of June 9th. According to an official statement by the diocese, he had been relieved of his duties the day before, pending the outcome of investigations into allegations of abuse. As several news outlets reported, May then most likely took his life.

The Limburg diocese described the death as very distressing for everyone, especially for Bishop Georg Bätzing, human resources officials, and diocesan leadership, and left “unanswered questions.” According to the memo, May was confronted by his bishop “on allegations of assaultive behavior” on June 8th, “as required by the relevant ecclesiastical orders.” As a result, Bishop Bätzing said, May had been released from all duties until the allegations were clarified. 

The diocese stressed that their “thoughts are also with those who reported the allegations.”

However, the question of when exactly the diocese learned of the allegations against the deceased remains unresolved. The Catholic weekly newspaper Die Tagespost expressed doubts about the chronology of the account. Based on statements from “Limburg church circles” there are “considerable doubts” about the diocese’s representation of the timeline of events. May’s absence at this year’s priestly ordination on June 4th in Limburg Cathedral, then explained by his indisposition, had already raised questions.

According to the Tagespost, employees of the diocese already knew of the accusations against May several weeks before Pentecost. “Observers close to the deceased” claim that “the protection of the bishop currently has priority over the transparency that diocesans hope for.” However, in a recent statement, the prosecutor’s office stressed that it had not known about the allegations until the news of May’s death broke.

Christof May rose to relative national fame in October 2020 with a sermon that went viral on the Internet. In it, he vehemently called for the Catholic Church to open up, especially with regards to the treatment of remarried divorcees and homosexual couples, for whom he wanted to confer public recognition: he “didn’t want to bless in the living room” but “wanted to see in the center.” He also criticized the fact that women do not have access to ordained ministry in the Catholic Church. 

David Boos is an organist, documentary filmmaker, and writer for The European Conservative and other publications.