German bishop says he won’t resign after report he mishandled abuse cases

Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

September 22, 2022

By Hannah Brockhaus

[Via Catholic World Report]

The vice president of the German bishops’ conference said Thursday he had thought about resigning after the publication of a report claiming he mishandled abuse cases, but that he had ultimately decided against it.

A report published Sept. 20 said Bishop Franz-Josef Bode mishandled abuse cases in the Diocese of Osnabrück, in northwestern Germany, which he has led since 1995.

The 600-page interim report is titled “Sexual violence against minors and vulnerable by clergy in the Diocese of Osnabrück since 1945.”

The report said in the first decades of his term, Bode “repeatedly” kept people accused of abuse in office or appointed them to other positions, including management tasks in youth pastoral care.

“I bear responsibility for this, also for the system in the diocese,” Bode said in a statement Tuesday

“I had wanted this interim report so that the truth would also come to light as quickly as possible,” he said. “Now I am very concerned about how blind we have actually been and how blind I have been for the suffering and the perspectives of those affected.”

At a press conference on Thursday, Bode said he consulted with those he works with and, rather than resign, “decided to do my best for the rest of my term of office and to take on the tasks and duties to follow up, which the interim report already shows, and also to face the results of the final report,” CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported.

The 71-year-old bishop has been vice president of the German bishops’ conference since 2017. He is also vice president of the German Synodal Way.

He has publicly supported women deacons and the development of a Church ceremony for blessing same-sex unions.

The final report of the abuse study, which is being conducted by the University of Osnabrück on behalf of the diocese, is expected to be made public in September 2024.