German Bishop Resigns, Citing Responsibility in Abuse Scandal

Pope Francis on Saturday accepted a resignation request from a German bishop who asked to step down because of his mistakes in handling sexual abuse cases.

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

Bode explained that an interim report released in September on abuse by clergy in the diocese had revealed his mistakes. He acknowledged his responsibility as a bishop and said, “Today, I can only ask all those affected again for forgiveness.”

Abuse survivor groups have accused Bode of failing to respond appropriately to some cases of abuse, German news agency dpa reported.

The head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Baetzing, issued a statement that noted 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 … all of us for a long time,” Baetzing said.

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