There is really no peace for the Church, a well-known German cardinal took the striking decision to resign.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx announced his request for resignation as archbishop of Munich and Freising. It will now be up to Pope Francis to decide whether or not to accept his resignation.
A “personal decision”
The motivation for Marx’s painful choice is to be traced back to child abuse scandals that are affecting numerous dioceses across Germany. Although there are no charges against him, the archbishop of Munich has therefore decided to step aside. Cardinal Marx, however, does not leave his position as a member of the “Council of 9” in the Vatican.
“The resignation request is my personal decision”, Explains the cardinal in a letter to the Pope, dated May 21, but published on the website of the archdiocese only yesterday. “With that request – adds Marx – I would like to point out that I am ready to take personal responsibility as well, not just for personal mistakes, but for the Church Institution which I have helped to form and shape for decades”.
For the archbishop of Munich it was not a “easy step“. Cardinal Marx’s wish is to “to be able to continue working for the Church in the future. My service to this Church and to the people does not end there. However – goes on – for the sake of a new and necessary beginning I want to take co-responsibility for the past. I believe that the deadlock we are currently in can become a turning point”.
New earthquake in full Synod
For the German Church it is a new hard blow, which comes right in the middle of the Synod of Central European Bishops. An event already made particularly tormented by the judicial investigation that involved the archdiocese of Cologne for child abuse, in which Cardinal Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki has always proclaimed himself innocent. The controversial day dedicated to the blessings of homosexual couples on May 10th is intertwined.
Woelki himself was attacked, without being named, from Marx, who, in his letter writes: “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-fault of the Institution“. Consequently, these prelates “they reject any kind of reform and innovation regarding the crisis linked to sexual abuse”, Cardinal Marx accuses.
It is clear that the sexual abuse scandal has become a litmus test of one ideological war between conservatives and progressives that has no equal in any episcopal conference in the world. At stake are possible epochal reforms, starting with the possible ordination of women. Too radical tears for a good half of the faithful, to the point that the word “schism” has dramatically become the order of the day.
Possible repercussions also on the universal Church
It is difficult now to assess what is the strategy that animates Cardinal Marx and whether the Pope will accept his resignation. The 68-year-old cardinal has been archbishop of Munich since 2007 and, in the same year, he received the cardinal’s hat from Pope Benedict XVI. He was then for six years (2014-2020) president of the German Bishops’ Conference.
Marx is considered one of Pope Francis’ trusted men, who in 2013, shortly after his election to the papal throne, appointed the German cardinal as a member of the Council of Cardinals for the reforms of the Roman Curia. Whatever, therefore, Bergoglio’s decision regarding Marx’s resignation may be, we are at a watershed moment not only for German Catholics but for the whole Church.
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