“If I were Pope, the first thing I’d do would be revise the ordination of women”, the vice president of the German Bishops has said.
– “Rekindle the discussion”
Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, 69, was speaking in a video published by the diocese on social networks April 21 in which he responded to questions from the faithful on everything from his favourite food and beverage to what he thought he might be doing with his life if he weren’t a priest.
On what he would do if he were Pope for a day, Bode said he would look deeper into the question of the ordination of women.
“I would like to rekindle the discussion about whether the arguments of former times should be revised”, the Osnbrück bishop explained, referencing the cases still made in the Church for the exclusion of women from holy orders.
In addition, Bode that if he were on the chair of St. Peter he would also analyse “how we continue to deal with women in the Church”.
– Marriage “a natural desire”
Other questions Catholics put to Bode in the video Tuesday included enquiries as to the bishop’s day-to-day schedule, to which he replied he works up to sixty hours a week, but that he “can handle it quite well”, as he can appearing and speaking in public.
Bode also revealed that if he hadn’t taken orders he would have become a pharmacist or a teacher of ancient languages: “but I decided differently early on”, he said.
The bishop said his favourite food is lentil soup, his favourite drink beer – not so much wine – and that his hobbies include reading, travelling and playing the piano and flute.
Even more revealing, however, was Bode’s admission that the desire for a life partner was no stranger to him.
“It is a natural desire”, he explained, adding that although he had met some women whom he felt he could have married, “I know which way I have chosen”.
– Committed to reform
Bode was appointed Bishop of Osnabrück in 1995 at the age of 44, becoming at that time the youngest bishop in Germany.
He has been deputy chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference since September 2017, first under the presidency of Cardinal Reinhard Marx and now under that of Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg.
Bishop Bode is known as one of the strongest proponents of reform in the German Church, repeatedly insisting that the Church must make more space for women and gays and also for the possible ordination of married men to the priesthood.
In February this year, for example – after the first assembly of the German ‘synodal path’ reform process – Bode asserted that the clerical sex abuse crisis “would have taken another course” if women had been involved in the discussions of “cliques of men” that led to wide-scale cover-ups.
In that assembly, Bode had called his fellow bishops to a “more open way of dealing with homosexuals” in the Church, and also, that they consider that in the future there be “two distinct forms” of priesthood, “celibacy and non-celibacy”.