ROME – Pope Francis told German Cardinal Reinhard Marx who offered his resignation last month to take responsibility for the Catholic Church’s institutional failure in preventing clerical sexual abuse rather than staying in office and pushing reforms.
The cardinal, a leading papal adviser and one of the most powerful Catholic prelates in Germany, surprisingly announced last week that he had requested his resignation “to share responsibility for the past sexual abuse catastrophe by church officials.” Decades. “
The prospect of his departure sparked speculation that other bishops might follow suit and raises questions about the course of the ongoing state synod of the German Church, an assembly originally convened in response to the abuse crisis. Cardinal Marx was a leading figure in the Catholic Church’s response to abuse scandals and in the Synod that discussed major changes in Catholic life, including the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex relationships.
In a very personal letter in his native Spanish, Pope Francis addressed Cardinal Marx as a “dear brother”, praised his courage and urged him to continue the painful rehabilitation work of the church institutions after the abuse crisis.
“Reform in the Church has been made by men and women who were not afraid of falling into crisis and allowing themselves to be reformed by the Lord. That is the only way, otherwise we are nothing more than ‘reform ideologues’ who do not risk their own flesh, ”wrote the Pope in the letter dated Thursday.
The Cardinal’s Archdiocese of Munich and Freising did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The German Catholic Church’s abuse crisis has worsened since a 2018 report documented thousands of cases over the past few decades.
Vatican investigators this week began an investigation into the Archdiocese of Cologne, the largest Catholic diocese in the country. Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg had offered to resign in March because he had abused cases of sexual abuse in a previous role as a civil servant in Cologne. He is currently on leave.
A report on the handling of allegations of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich by Cardinal Marx is expected this summer. The report, commissioned by the cardinal and drawn up by an external law firm, deals with the decades of dealing with allegations of abuse by church representatives.
Cardinal Marx admitted last Friday that he would “examine possible errors and omissions in each individual case more closely”, but said he wanted to resign “to make it clear that I am ready, not only for my mistakes, but also for the Church Institution that I have helped shape and helped shape over the past few decades. “
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