SNAP Responds to German Bishop Bode Resignation Refusal After Scathing Report
(For Immediate Release September 23, 2022)
Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, the deputy chairman of the German bishops' conference, said on Thursday that he will stay in office, despite the release of a critical report on the treatment of abuse allegations in his diocese. Osnabrück University presented a 600-page interim study on abuse incidents in the diocese since 1945 on Tuesday. The investigation criticized Bishop Bode, who has held the position since 1995, and his predecessors for failing to provide adequate safeguards.
According to the report, "in the early decades of his tenure of office, Bishop Bode routinely left accused individuals in their posts, even those whose danger could scarcely be denied, or assigned them to offices that provided further opportunity for perpetrating crimes." In a media briefing on Thursday, the 71-year-old claimed he had discussed resignation with Father Hans Zollner, a safeguarding specialist and Director of the Institute of Anthropology Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care (previously known as the Center for Child Protection). Bishop Bode stated that he has opted to remain in his position in order to monitor the process of enhancing safeguarding protocols.
Bishop Bode looks to be in self-preservation mode. On the one hand, by refusing to resign, he suggests that diocesan changes will be evaluated and improved. This remark is tough to accept, and it simply cannot be believed considering his proven inaction and lack of concern for survivors and children. He did not propose his resignation to Pope Francis, but rather discussed it with Fr. Zollner, who has been publicly and fiercely criticized for the church's handling of the sexual abuse epidemic. We have to wonder if Fr. Zollner counseled a complicit Bishop to stick to his guns. Pope Francis has committed multiple times to purge the Catholic Church of sexual abuse. A more powerful message would be for the Pope to demand a resignation now from Bishop Bode.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)