Pope Benedict XVI received controversial ex-Augsburg bishop Walter Mixa for a private audience on Thursday, with the pontiff definitively ruling out Mixa regaining his post.
In a Vatican statement about the meeting between the two men who have known each other for years - Benedict is the former Cardinal Ratzinger from Munich - the pope said he hoped now for reconciliation and a "new self-acceptance in the spirit of the Lord's mercy".
For the moment, the 69-year-old Mixa will be "withdrawing for a period of silence, collection and prayer", the Vatican said. After the period of healing and reconciliation, Mixa could take up new pastoral tasks agreed on with his successor in Augsburg.
The Vatican said that Mixa had admitted to having made mistakes.
Mixa, 69, stepped down as Bishop of Augsburg in southern Germany in late April after a controversial period in which he had stood accused of having slapped teenagers 30 years ago.
He initially denied the allegations, but later admitted to them. The pope accepted Mixa's resignation May 8. Afterward, Mixa claimed he was under pressure when he resigned and he asked for his job back.
Allegations of sex abuse also surfaced against Mixa but these were later rejected by German prosecutors. However, the Vatican did compile a top-secret file on Mixa in which allegations surfaced of alcohol abuse and homosexual approaches towards young priests.
Thursday's developments answer some of the speculation ahead of the meeting about what role, if any, Mixa would be offered in the future.
Vatican analysts note that until the question of Mixa's future role was clarified, the bishopric of Augsburg could not proceed with the search for a successor.