Hans Hermann Groer

Died March 24th, 2003

ST. POELTEN, Austria (AP) - Retired Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, forced by the Vatican to relinquish his church duties in 1998 amid allegations he sexually abused young boys and men, died of pneumonia Sunday night. He was 83.

The famed Pummerin bell in Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral tolled Monday to mark Groer's death.

Groer was cardinal of Vienna from 1986 to 1995, when allegations first surfaced that he molested students at an all-male Catholic high school in the early 1970s.

Under pressure from church and lay groups, Groer resigned later that year as head of the Austrian Bishops' Conference. In 1998, Pope John Paul II ordered him to relinquish all church duties, and Groer went into months of Vatican-imposed exile near Dresden, Germany.

Groer never admitted any guilt, but the scandal was the worst since World War II to rock the Roman Catholic Church in Austria.

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