German bishop resigns, cites responsibility in abuse scandal

BERLIN — Pope Francis on Saturday accepted a request for resignation from a German bishop who asked to resign over his mistakes in handling cases of sexual abuse.

Franz-Josef Bode, who has been bishop of Osnabrueck, Germany since 1995, said in a personal statement that his decision to step down “has matured in me over the past few months” and he hoped it would have a liberating effect on the diocese .

Bode explained that an interim report released in September on abuses by clergy in the diocese revealed his mistakes. Acknowledging his responsibility as a bishop, he said: “Today I can only ask forgiveness again from all those affected.”

Groups of abuse survivors have accused Bode of failing to respond adequately to some cases of abuse, the German news agency dpa reported.

The head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Baetzing, issued a statement noting Bode’s resignation with “great regret and respect”.

With his resignation, Bode “also takes responsibility for the topic of sexual abuse in the church, which has accompanied us all for a long time,” Baetzing said.

“Your will to reach an agreement, to improve the treatment of victims and perpetrators in your diocese, as well as to bring about systemic change in our church, has not left you ever since,” he added, addressing directly Bode directing in his statement.

A 2018 commissioned report on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Germany said that between 1946 and 2014, 3,677 people were abused by clergy. More than half of the victims were 13 years old or younger, and most were boys. Every sixth case involved rape, involving at least 1,670 clergymen.

READ ALSO -  Bezos rocket crashes after launch, only experiments on board

Bode became auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Paderborn in 1991 and had been bishop of Osnabrueck since 1995, making him Germany’s longest-serving active bishop.

Irme Stetter-Karp, the chairman of the Central Committee of German Catholics, an influential German lay group, expressed his respect for Bode’s decision.

“His resignation from office is certainly an important step from the point of view of those affected, to make real progress in addressing the abuse scandal,” she said.

The pope has not yet responded to a request for resignation from a German cardinal who was also accused of mishandling sexual abuse cases. Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s request arose from a crisis of confidence in the Archdiocese of Cologne that began in 2020.

The crisis began when Woelki, citing legal concerns, concealed a report he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. The withholding of the report enraged many Catholics in Cologne. A second report, published in March 2021, found 75 cases where senior officials had neglected their duties.

The report absolved Woelki of any neglect of his legal duty in relation to victims of abuse. He then said he had made mistakes in previous cases involving sexual assault allegations, but insisted he had no intention of resigning.

A few months later, two papal envoys were sent to Cologne to investigate possible errors by senior officials in the handling of cases. Their report led Pope Francis to give Woelki a “spiritual time-out” of several months for making major communication errors.

In March 2022, after returning from time-out, the Cardinal submitted his offer to resign, but so far Francis has not acted upon it.

READ ALSO -  EXPLANATION: Is China Sharing Enough COVID-19 Information?

Copyright 2022 ABC NEWS. All rights reserved.
Follow WT LOCAL on Social Media for the Latest News and Updates.
Share this news on your Facebook,Twitter and Whatsapp.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter