OSNABRÜCK, Germany (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, the vice president of the German Bishops Conference and the Synodal Way, announced that he will not resign after accusations were made in an official report that he knowingly promoted abusive priests.
In a Thursday press conference, Bode said he plans to remain the bishop of Osnabrück, saying, “I have decided to devote all my energies in my remaining term to the tasks and duties already indicated by the interim report and also to face the results of the final report in two years.”
He claimed that his resignation and the resulting vacancy of the bishop’s seat would “delay the process of reappraisal” of the abuse cases.
A recently published, 600-page interim report conducted by historians and lawyers at the University of Osnabrück accused Bode of appointing abusive priests “whose dangerousness could hardly be doubted.”
Bode did not explicitly deny any of the allegations made against him. He said:
The interim report documents considerable deficits and serious mistakes […] that were largely made during my term of office. […] I bear responsibility for this. I myself have been negligent in some cases, […] but it was never done with the intention of deliberately covering up or bending the law. I ask forgiveness from all those who have suffered even greater harm than they have already experienced because of my errors and omissions.
After publication of the abuse report, the German Catholic lay initiative “New beginning” demanded Bode’s resignation. In a press release, the group wrote:
It is time for a credible reappraisal of the abuse issue, and this cannot be done by bishops who are themselves involved in it. No one can be a judge or investigator in their own case. We do not need a new morality in the Catholic Church, but priests who adhere to it themselves.
Addressing the members of the heterodox Synodal Way, the statement continues: “How credible is this body’s already dubious handling of the abuse issue if you tolerate a vice president on the Synodal Path who is himself accused of blatant omissions and cover-ups?”
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, who is known as a conservative and critic of the Synodal Way, had also been accused of mishandling abuse cases but was exonerated by a report in 2021 that stated that he did not violate his duties as archbishop of Cologne.
However, much pressure was put on Woelki by the secular mainstream and Catholic “church-tax-financed media” because of his criticism of the Synodal Way, according to Guido Horst, editor-in-chief of the Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost. In a recent opinion piece, Horst calls for the resignation of Bode and points out the hypocrisy of the mainstream Catholic media regarding the treatment of Bode in comparison with Woelki.
The purported goal of the Synodal Way is to prevent sexual abuse in the Church. However, Horst challenges this claim as “Bode remaining in office tears the mask off the Synodal Way: It is not about abuse and personal responsibility at all. It is about building a new church.”
Horst continues by stating the following:
And if a bishop has violated exactly what the Synodal Way was supposedly conceived for, then suddenly it is not that important. For it is not the individual who is to blame, but always just the (anonymous) system. The behavior of the individual is only important when it comes to critics of the Synodal Way, such as Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. Then they take a very close look and the church-tax-financed media start their engines.
It remains to be seen whether Bode will also keep his positions as vice president of the German Bishops Conference and the Synodal Way.