Cardinal offers resignation over Church’s mishandling of sex abuse

Crux Now

German cardinal Reinhard Marx has offered his resignation as archbishop over the Church’s mishandling of clergy sexual abuse cases.

The Church is at a “dead end” and the reputation of  its bishops has, possibly, never been lower, his resignation letter says.

The pope gave Marx permission to make his letter of 21 May public.

“It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades,” the letter says.

While there are many reasons for the crisis in Germany and the whole world, “this [sex abuse] crisis has also been caused by our own failure, by our own guilt.

“This has become clearer and clearer to me looking at the Catholic Church as a whole, not only today but also in the past decades. My impression is that we are at a ‘dead end’ which, and this is my paschal hope, also has the potential of becoming a ‘turning point’.

“Everyone must assume responsibility in whatever way they think right,” he wrote.

Marx challenges his fellow bishops to use the opportunity of the Church’s mishandling of abuse scandal to save the Church and reform it.

The German synodal path for church reform “will come about more easily if the Church learns its lesson from the [abuse] crisis. It is a matter of renewal and of reforming the Church,” he says.

A large number of Germany’s 68 bishops – including the bishops’ conference head – say they respect Marx’s decision.

So far there has been no comment from the Vatican.

However, the head of Germany’s lay Catholics, Thomas Sternberg, says he is “shattered” by Marx’s resignation.

Marx initiated the German synodal path for church reform with him in December 2019. “Should the Pope accept his resignation, that will leave a huge hole in the German Church”, Sternberg says.

Fr Mark Butaye from the Belgian bishops’ conference, has written an open letter to the pope begging him not to accept Marx’s resignation and to allow him to continue with the German synodal path for church reform.

Butaye says Marx has the “full support” of Czech theologian Fr Tomas Halik and Austrian pastoral theologian Fr Paul Zulehner.

The French bishops’ conference president says Marx’s letter to the Pope “gives the reason for his decision – but it is his aloneness that impresses me.”

Until Pope Francis reached a decision as to Marx’s future (as he has to approve his resignation for it to take effect), Marx will remain in office and carry out his usual duties.


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