In an unexpected gesture, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich (Germany), announced on Friday June 4 that he had sent a letter to Pope Francis on May 21 in which he resigned. “In essence, it is for me to take joint responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse committed by Church leaders in recent decades”, explains in his letter – made public by his diocese in German, English and Italian – the 67-year-old archbishop, president of the German episcopal conference until last year.
“To assume responsibility, it is therefore not enough, in my opinion, to react only and exclusively if the files provide proof of the errors and shortcomings of individuals, continues the one who is also a member of the Council of Cardinals, created by Pope Francis to support him in the reform of the Roman Curia. As bishops, we must make it clear that we also represent the institution of the Church as a whole. ” By this decision, writes Cardinal Marx, “I would like to show that it is not the ministry that is in the foreground, but the mission of the Gospel. This too is an element of pastoral care ”.
→ INVESTIGATION. In Germany, turmoil over an investigation into sexual abuse
Send a “personal signal” of responsibility in the face of abuse
By resigning from the head of the bishopric of Munich, he hopes, “I could perhaps send a personal signal for a new beginning, for a new revival of the Church, not only in Germany”. Cardinal Marx indeed deplores that “Recent debates have shown that some members of the Church refuse to believe that there is a shared responsibility in this regard and that the Church as an institution is therefore also to blame for what has happened and therefore disapprove of the discussion of reform and renewal in the context of the sexual abuse crisis ”.
For the moment, the Vatican has not announced whether Pope Francis accepts the resignation of the German cardinal, one of whose many functions is also that of coordinator of the Council for the Economy, another body established by the Argentine Pope. Usually, accepted resignations are announced in the bollettino daily, published at noon. In Munich, a press conference is to be organized in the early afternoon.