Pope Francis rejects the resignation of Cardinal Reinhard Marx as Archbishop of Munich. “Thank you for your Christian courage, which does not fear to be humbled before the reality of sin,” the Pope writes to the Cardinal. “Taking up the crisis, personally and communally, is the only fruitful path.”
A Roman cleric who often speaks with Pope Francis insisted on Thursday that Cardinal Marx’s resignation had come as a surprise to the pope, and said that it was an expression of the German’s conscience.
Cardinal Marx’s role has given the German church significant influence in the Vatican, even as the church is hemorrhaging members in Germany, with more than 270,000 people leaving in 2019 alone.
In his original letter, which Cardinal Marx has said he spent months reflecting on before sending it to the Vatican on May 21, he wrote that “It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by church officials over the past decades.”
He added that he believed Catholics were at a “dead end” in terms of the crisis, and that he had remained troubled by a question he was asked as the head of the German Bishops’ Conference during the release of a 2018 report that showed almost 3,700 children had been abused over seven decades in Germany alone.
He was asked how many bishops had resigned as a consequence of the abuse, and the answer was none. The Cardinal told reporters this month that he had decided to lead by example.
“I believe one possibility to express this willingness to take responsibility is my resignation,” the cardinal wrote in his letter, adding, “I therefore strongly request you to accept this resignation.”
In rejecting the resignation, Francis added that he shared Cardinal Marx’s concerns. Silence and protecting the institution at all costs, he wrote, “leads to personal and historical failure, and brings us to live with the weight of ‘keeping skeletons in the cupboard,’ as the saying goes.”