German cardinal offers to resign over church abuse
BERLIN (AP) – A prominent German cardinal and confidant of Pope Francis, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, offered to step down as archbishop on Friday due to the Catholic Church’s mismanagement of cases of clergy sexual abuse , declaring in an extraordinary public gesture that the church has come to “a dead end.”
The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising posted Marx’s resignation letter to the Pope online, in multiple languages, and the cardinal said Francis had given him permission to make it public.
“It is important for me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse committed by Church leaders over the past decades,” Marx, 67, wrote in the letter. But he also issued a sort of challenge to his fellow bishops to seize the opportunity of the scandal to save the church and reform it.
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There was no immediate comment from the Vatican, where Marx sits in powerful financial and political bodies.
Marx, who led the German Bishops’ Conference from 2014 to 2020, wrote that surveys over the past decade have shown that there have been “a lot of personal failures and administrative errors, but also failures. institutional or “systemic” ”.
In 2018, a report commissioned by the church concluded that at least 3,677 people were abused by the clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. More than half of the victims were 13 or younger when the abuse took place, and almost a third of them were altar boys. , according to the report.
Earlier this year, another report was released on church officials’ handling of allegations of sexual abuse in the diocese of Cologne, in the west of the country. The Archbishop of Hamburg, a former Cologne church official who was blamed in this report, offered his resignation to the Pope and was granted an indefinite “time out”.
Marx wrote in his letter that his offer could also be seen as “a personal signal for a new beginning, for a new awakening of the Church, not just in Germany”.
“I would like to show that it is not the ministry which is in the foreground but the mission of the Gospel”, he added.
Marx’s offer to resign was an extraordinary gesture and exposed the credibility crisis that the sexual abuse scandal has created in Germany, as in other countries. In an attempt to reclaim that credibility, Marx led a process of reform and debate with powerful secularists in Germany to address the structural problems that helped let the abuses escalate unchecked for decades.
But the so-called “synodal path” has met with fierce resistance inside and outside Germany, mainly from conservative bishops and priests opposed to opening any debate on issues. such as celibacy, the role of women in the church and homosexuality.
Resistance has also come from the Vatican and bishops outside Germany, including culture warriors in the United States who have broken with church protocol to write essays criticizing the reform process underway in Germany.
In his letter, Marx made no mention of his status as a member of the kitchen cabinet of Francis, a group of cardinal advisers who meet regularly to draft a new reform of the Vatican hierarchy and who advise the pontiff on others. Questions.
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Marx’s offer to resign shocked Vatican watchers, who noted his closeness to the Pope and his important roles in the Vatican. In addition to his position as one of Francis’s main advisers, he heads the Council for the Economy, the council of religious and lay people which helps oversee the finances of the Vatican.
Theologian Massimo Faggioli of the University of Villanova said he was saddened by Marx’s offer to resign.
“But his decision sets the bar high for many other leaders of the Catholic Church today,” Faggioli tweeted.
Winfield contributed from Rome.