Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, offered his resignation to Pope Francis. The archdiocese of Munich confirms this. In the letter addressed to the Pontiff, Cardinal Marx writes that the Catholic Church has reached “a dead end”.
“Undoubtedly the Church in Germany is going through moments of crisis”, observes the former president of the German Bishops’ Conference, who however underlines how the crisis was “also caused by our personal failure, through our fault” and that the “dead point” where the Church seems to have arrived may “also become a turning point”. For the archbishop of Munich and Freising, “it is a question of assuming co-responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse perpetrated by the representatives of the Church in recent decades.
The investigations and expert opinions of the last ten years – writes Cardinal Marx – constantly show me that there have been both personal failures and administrative errors, but also an institutional and “systematic” failure. The most recent controversies and discussions have shown that some representatives of the Church do not want to accept this co-responsibility and therefore also the co-guilt of the Institution. Consequently they reject any kind of reform and innovation regarding the crisis linked to sexual abuse ».
There are two “elements” that cannot be lost sight of: “personal errors and institutional failure that require changes and a reform of the Church”, continues Marx, who points out “a turning point to get out of this crisis” which can only be ” that of the “synodal way”, a way that truly allows the “discernment of spirits”. I feel with pain how much esteem for bishops has diminished in the ecclesiastical and secular perception, indeed, it has probably reached its lowest point », he continues.
For Marx, therefore, “it is not enough to react only when it is possible to identify, on the basis of the acts, who are the individual responsible and which are their errors and omissions. Instead, it is a question of clarifying that we as bishops see the Church as a whole ”. Furthermore, “it is not possible to simply relegate grievances to the past and to the officials of the time and thus” bury them “. Personally – adds the German cardinal – I feel my guilt and co-responsibility also through the silence, the omissions and the too much weight given to the prestige of the Institution. Only after 2002 and, subsequently, more intensely since 2010, did the perpetrators of sexual abuse emerge. However, this shift in perspective has not yet come to fruition. Carelessness and disinterest in the victims was certainly our biggest fault in the past. Following the scientific project (MHG study) on the sexual abuse of minors commissioned by the German Bishops’ Conference in the Munich cathedral I said that we have failed, but who is this “we”? Certainly I am part of it too. And this means that I have to draw personal consequences ”, he specifies, underlining the will to present his resignation. «In this way I will probably be able to set a personal signal for 3 new beginnings, for a new restart of the Church and not only in Germany. I want to show that it is not the task that is in the foreground, but the mission of the Gospel ».
The cardinal concludes his letter by writing that he will continue “with pleasure to be a priest and bishop of this Church” and will continue to commit himself “at the pastoral level always and in any case” the Pope will deem “sensible and opportune”. Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s letter sent to Pope Francis is dated May 21. The archbishop of Munich and Freising today declared in another note that the Pontiff told him that the letter “can be published” and that he must continue to carry out his “service as bishop until his decision”. “In the past months – writes Marx – I have repeatedly thought of my resignation, I introspected and tried to make the right decision in prayer and spiritual dialogue”. “With my resignation – he specifies -, I would like to clarify that I am willing to personally take responsibility not only for the errors I may have committed, but for the Church as an institution that I have helped to form and shape in recent decades”.