Franz-Josef Bode is no longer Bishop of Osnabrück. The Pope accepted a resignation from the 72-year-old, who has been heavily criticized for dealing with abuse cases. This was announced by the Holy See on Saturday. Exact reasons for Pope Francis’ decision were not given.

The churchman is accused of not responding appropriately to cases of abuse. Last year he declared a case of sexualized violence against minors as a “relationship”, accused a council of those affected. In December, he contacted the Vatican and filed a canonical complaint against Bode. The attitude of the bishop is still more perpetrator than victim-oriented, it said.

The background to this is cases of abuse in the diocese of Osnabrück that have become known through a scientific report by the University of Osnabrück. In one case, a priest had sexualized violence against a girl in a community for years. The experts accuse Bode of having given him a management position in youth work in the same year that the person concerned reported the man to the bishop.

Bode had recently announced that he did not want to resign. A corresponding request to the Pope had not previously been known.

The chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, accepted the resignation request with “great regret and respect”, as the DBK announced. Bode became auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese of Paderborn in 1991 and has been bishop of Osnabrück since 1995. He was the longest-serving, incumbent bishop in Germany.