Abuse scandal: Osnabrück Bishop Bode resigned

Abuse scandal: Osnabrück Bishop Bode resigned

EFor the first time, a Catholic bishop in Germany has resigned in connection with the abuse scandal. The Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Franz-Josef Bode from Osnabrück, he said Vatican on Saturday with In 2021, Archbishop Reinhard Cardinal Marx of Munich had already offered Pope Francis his resignation, which he declined.

The 72-year-old Bode justified his resignation primarily with his own mistakes in dealing with sexual abuse. The interim report published last September on dealing with sexualized violence in the diocese Osnabruck “Once again clearly demonstrated his own mistakes in dealing with cases of abuse,” said the bishop on Saturday in Osnabrück. He expressly acknowledges his responsibility as a bishop as well as his personal mistakes, said Bode: “Today I can only ask everyone concerned for forgiveness again.”

“The decision to resign has matured within me over the past few months,” he said in a statement, giving several reasons for the move. Against the background of the loss of trust he has suffered, he hopes that his resignation as bishop, which has now been completed, can also have a liberating effect on the people in the diocese. The point in time is also suitable because the measures he announced as a direct reaction to the study to improve the handling of cases of sexualized violence have now been launched: “The diocesan protection process against sexualized violence and spiritual abuse has been significantly strengthened, the processing continues.”

In addition, with the provisional conclusion of the synodal path, the Catholic Church in Germany he achieved an interim goal that was important to him, on the basis of which he was finally able to put some concrete reform projects into effect for the diocese of Osnabrück, said Bode. However, the further necessary perpetuation of the synodal principle in the church will still require a lot of strength, which he himself can no longer muster: “Because I have noticed that my increasingly poor health no longer allows me to carry out my leadership tasks in Osnabrück and in the church in Germany for another three years until I reach the age of 75 in the manner required for the office.”

Bätzig: “Great regret and respect”

Born in Paderborn, Bode was the longest-serving incumbent Catholic bishop in Germany. Since 2017 he has also been Vice-Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, and since 2019 he has been a member of the presidium of the reform process of the Synodal Path of the Church in Germany. Bode had been auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese of Paderborn since 1991 and bishop of Osnabrück since 1995.

The chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, took note of the resignation with “great regret and respect”. “I would have liked to have seen you by our side in the German Bishops’ Conference for more years. At the same time, I understand your decision and the consequences it entails.”

With the resignation, Bode is also taking responsibility for “the issue of sexual abuse in the church that has accompanied us all for a long time,” said Bätzing: “There was a struggle in you, an inner turmoil, sometimes disappointment with fellow brothers”.

The episcopal see in the diocese of Osnabrück is no longer occupied with immediate effect, and the period of the vacancy in the see begins. Canon law stipulates that the office of vicar general expires at the same time as the bishop and all the bodies assigned to the bishop cease to exist.

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