Leading Synodalist bishop resigns, alleged to have protected sexual abuse perpetrators

Pope accepts resignation of Osnabrück bishop

Franz-Josef Bode is no longer Bishop of Osnabrück. Bode is accused of not having reacted appropriately to cases of abuse. Now the head of the church agreed to resign.

He allegedly protected perpetrators after abuse allegations in the Osnabrück diocese: The Bishop of Osnabrück, Franz-Josef Bode, was criticised for this. Now he will not continue in his office. The Pope accepted a letter of resignation from the 72-year-old. This was announced by the Holy See. Exact reasons for Pope Francis' decision were not given.

The Carnival is coming to an end

Bode is accused of not having reacted appropriately to cases of abuse. A council of victims accused him of declaring a case of sexualised violence against minors as a "relationship" as recently as last year. In December, the council called in the Vatican and filed a complaint against Bode under canon law. The bishop's attitude was still more perpetrator-oriented than victim-oriented, they said.

Bode has since admitted to having made mistakes. "I expressly acknowledge my responsibility as well as my personal mistakes and can only ask again today for forgiveness from all those affected!" wrote Bode in a personal statement.

He had underestimated the extent of the irritation, especially among the diocesan staff, the outgoing bishop wrote: "I wish that my resignation as bishop, now completed, can also have a liberating effect against this background."

The background to the case is a scientific report by the University of Osnabrück on cases of abuse in the Osnabrück diocese. According to the report, in one case a priest had been sexually abusing a girl in a parish for years. The experts accuse Bode of having given the priest a leadership position in youth work in the very same year that the girl reported the man to the bishop.

Bode had recently announced that he did not want to resign. A corresponding request to the Pope had not been known so far.

Bode became auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese of Paderborn in 1991 and was Bishop of Osnabrück from 1995.

The abuse scandal in the Catholic Church was uncovered in 2010. It turned out that priests had sexually abused thousands of children since 1945. Only a tiny fraction of the acts were prosecuted, much was covered up by the church leadership. In the Protestant Church, too, children and those in need of protection have been victims of assaults. Some of those affected accuse the Protestant Church of dragging its feet in coming to terms with the situation.