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Cardinal Marx offers resignation to Pope Francis

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, pictured in Rome Feb. 24, 2019. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Munich, Germany, Jun 4, 2021 / 04:03 am (CNA).

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the 67-year-old archbishop of Munich and Freising, has offered his resignation to Pope Francis.

The influential cardinal is a member of the pope’s Council of Cardinals, the coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy, and until last year the chairman of the German bishops’ conference.

The archdiocese of Munich and Freising published the cardinal’s letter to the pope and personal declaration on June 4 in German, English, and Italian.

In his May 21 letter to the pope, Marx outlined his reasons for seeking to resign from office.

He wrote: “Without doubt, these are times of crisis for the Church in Germany. There are, of course, many reasons for this situation — also beyond Germany in the whole world — and I believe it is not necessary to state them in detail here.”

“However, this 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.’”

He continued: “In essence, it is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades.”

The pope informed the cardinal that this letter could now be published and that he should continue his episcopal service until a final decision on his resignation is taken, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

In the letter, Marx said that the investigations and reports of abuse over the past 10 years consistently showed for him that there had been “many personal failures and administrative mistakes but also institutional or ‘systemic’ failure.”

“The recent debates have shown that some members of the Church refuse to believe that there is a shared responsibility in this respect and that the Church as an institution is hence also to be blamed for what has happened and therefore disapprove of discussing reforms and renewal in the context of the sexual abuse crisis,” he said.

“I firmly have a different opinion. Both aspects have to be considered: mistakes for which you are personally responsible and the institutional failure which requires changes and a reform of the Church.”

He continued: “A turning point out of this crisis is, in my opinion, only possible if we take a ‘synodal path,’ a path which actually enables a ‘discernment of spirits’ as you have repeatedly emphasized and reiterated in your letter to the Church in Germany.”

Marx, who has served as archbishop of Munich and Freising since 2007, said that he hoped his resignation would “send a personal signal for a new beginning, for a new awakening of the Church, not only in Germany.”

“I would like to show that not the ministry is in the foreground but the mission of the Gospel. This too is an element of pastoral care. I therefore strongly request you to accept this resignation.”

In April, Marx asked German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier not to bestow the Federal Cross of Merit on him after an outcry among advocates for abuse survivors over the award.

He had been scheduled to receive the Bundesverdienstkreuz, Germany’s only federal decoration, at the Bellevue Palace in Berlin on April 30.

Marx said that he did not want to draw negative attention to other award recipients.

In February 2020, he notified German bishops that he would not stand to be elected to a second term as chairman of the German bishops’ conference. He was succeeded in the post by Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg.

In his personal declaration, Marx said that he had repeatedly thought about resigning from office over the past few months.

“The events and debates of the past weeks, however, only play a subordinate role in this context,” he said, explaining that his request to resign was an “exclusively personal decision.”

He wrote: “With my resignation, I would like to make clear that I am willing to personally bear responsibility not only for any mistakes I might have made but for the Church as an institution which I have helped to shape and mold over the past decades. Recently, it has been said: ‘Coming to terms with the past must hurt.’”

“This decision is not easy for me. I like being a priest and bishop and hope that I can continue to work for the Church in the future. My service for this Church and the people does not end.”

“However, to support a new beginning which is necessary, I would like to bear my share in the responsibility for past events. I believe that the ‘dead end’ we are facing at the moment can become a ‘turning point.’ This is my paschal hope and I will continue praying and working for it to happen.”

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  1. Cardinal Marx is remorseful, perhaps repentant. “With my resignation, I am willing to personally bear responsibility not only for any mistakes I might have made but for the Church as an institution which I have helped to shape and mold over the past decades. Coming to terms with the past must hurt”. How he interprets his failures is the key. If he acknowledges error in his drift from orthodoxy is a good thing for which I’m hopeful. If that occurs it could begin a trend within the German Church of repentance and true renewal in Christ.

    • May God reward you richly for your optimistic prayerful hope. Thank you for sharing your gift. I, OTOH, am bitter and harsh, searching for kind words and finding few to none.

    • Cardinal Marx remarks: “A turning point out of this crisis is, in my opinion, only possible if we take a ‘synodal path,’ a path which actually enables a ‘discernment of spirits’ as you [Pope Francis] have repeatedly emphasized and reiterated in your letter to the Church in Germany.”

      A “turning point” married (so to speak) to a “synodal path,” but still possibly a “hopeful” and real “turning point” since Cardinal Marx refers here to the Catholic “Church in Germany,” and not Bishop Batzing’s hermaphrodite “German Catholic Church.”

    • Gilberta, I can’t help but wonder what he sees around the corner that he thinks the church should negotiate — I hope it leads to what John the Baptist proclaimed,
      “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

  2. If it gets accepted then it’s good riddance.
    But the German hierarchy should resign en masse for dereliction of duty.

    And this goes for those higher up the ladder.

    • Peter, yes, I agree. However, given Pope Francis’ appointments, no doubt a new Marx clone will take his place. It will be business as usual.

  3. Having been not that familiar with St.Boniface , even in a bit of syncretism in ignorance of not having distinguished him much from St.Bonaventure ! 🙂 – good to have the occasion to read up on him , whose Feast Day is today , helping to see how the old problems are not that old , how renewal of the old is at times more difficult than the new –

    Yet , our times also blessed , from the prayers and blessings of all these saints and all too , to take in the New – to help define that
    TRUE FUN is to bring the old wounded memories into The New Fire in the Holy Spirit as occasions of ‘ Fabulous Union in Natures ‘ , to be blessed to live and love in His Will and Love – Loving God , ourselves and others , with The Love and holiness , in the Two Hearts … to thus live true to The Image , seeing same
    as the only Way ..

    that all knots of generational spirits , old wounds and fears and hatreds can be undone and healed ..

    Thank God that The Church is blessed with a name sake of St. Francis , who is faithful to trust in what the Two Hearts can do ..

    • I’m going to be the cynic here—-I think there is a “Method To The Madness”—-shifting gears, a different sound, an adjusted speed, in order to implement that which was in the works all along.

  4. He needs to resign from the College of Cardinals as well as Archbishop of Munich. otherwise he will continue to blight the Church with his heterodoxy and sexual abuse coverup.

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