For more than two decades, a pastor in Merzen near Osnabruck allegedly abused children: This Sunday, parishioners confronted Bishop Bode with further details and accusations.
A parishioner in Merzen, near Osnabruck, told Bishop Franz-Josef Bode in front of a good 250 people that the then diocese leadership had already learned in 1992 of the abuse allegations against the now 85-year-old pastor Hermann H. known and had given instructions not to report them and make them public.
Priest in Merzen allegedly abused several children
Bode, who has been bishop in the Osnabruck diocese since 1996, admitted that the Catholic Church had often acted in such and comparable cases before 2002. However, he had not known about these events until now.
Bishop Bode ended his trip to parishes in the northern district of Osnabruck that were or are particularly affected by cases of abuse. In Merzen, Hermann H. sexually abused several children and adolescents in the 1970s to 1990s. In early December, three victims of the priest had initially contacted the diocese. Later, other victims from Merzen, but also from former parishes of the pastor in Emsland, came forward.
Accused priest retired in 1997
Bishop Bode had H. Sentenced to early retirement already in 1997 due to rumors. In December 2018, Bode banned him from all public appearances and liturgical acts. He is also no longer allowed to visit his former parish in Merzen.
Further Bode forbade that the priest can be buried later church in the place. He also requested in Rome that H. should be removed from the clerical rank. According to Bode, the proceedings could be concluded in the coming days.
After the spring plenary meeting of the German Bishops' Conference in Lingen, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode spoke out in favor of a concept that would counteract sexual abuse and the abuse of power in the church. Experts from outside the church helped develop the concept. They should also steer and control its implementation, the bishop explained.