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Vatican official cleared of abuse charges lodged by ex-nun

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VATICANCITY (Reuters) – A Vatican official has been acquitted by a Holy See tribunal of charges levelled by a former nun that he had solicited sex from her a decade ago while hearing her confession.

The tribunal that had investigated the accusations against Father Hermann Geissler found him not guilty at a trial that ended this week, the Vatican said in a statement.

Geissler, an Austrian, was a section head in the Vatican doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). He resigned in January following the accusations, which he has always denied.

The accusations were made in November by Doris Wagner, a German who entered a convent when she was 19.

Wagner, who made the accusation at a conference in Rome on the theme of giving a greater voice to women survivors of clergy sexual abuse, said she had been propositioned by the priest during confession in 2009, when she was 25.

At the time, they were both members of the same religious order. She left the order in 2011.

Solicitation is a serious crime under Church law. It refers to when a priest uses the pretext of the sacrament of confession to commit an immoral act with a penitent or seeks to commit one. It is punishable by expulsion from the priesthood.

The Vatican statement did not say if Geissler would return to his previous post.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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