Pope Francis has asked Cardinal Reinhard Marx to remain in office. “That is my answer, dear brother. Carry on as you suggest, but as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, ”the Pope wrote in a letter to Marx published by the Vatican on Thursday. Last Friday, Marx announced that he had offered the Pope his resignation.
In the three-page letter dated June 10 (Thursday), the Pope first thanks the Archbishop of Munich for his “Christian courage”. By and large, Franziskus shares Marx’s assessment of the ecclesiastical situation. “I agree with you that we are dealing with a disaster: the sad history of sexual abuse and the way the Church has dealt with it until recently,” writes the Pope.
The church must take responsibility, continues Francis. An “ostrich policy” does not help. However, according to the Pope, the crisis must be accepted “based on our Easter faith”. Ways out of the crisis could only be found together. Therefore, according to the head of the church, every bishop must “ask himself: What do I have to do in the face of this catastrophe?”. What is needed is a reform that must begin with everyone and “which – in this case – does not consist in words, but in behaviors that have the courage to expose themselves to this crisis, to accept reality wherever that leads. “
At a meeting on May 21 in the Vatican, Marx presented the Pope with his offer of resignation. Francis asked the cardinal to remain in office for the time being; he would decide in due course. Both had agreed that Marx would publicly announce his decision on June 4th. The news caused a sensation worldwide. Inside and outside the church there were questions, perplexity, applause and criticism.
As a reason for his offer to resign, Marx wrote in a letter: “Basically, for me it is about sharing responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse by church officials in the past decades.” The studies and reports of the past ten years showed for him consistently that there have been “a lot of personal failure and administrative errors”, but “also institutional or systemic failure”. Marx is also accused of misconduct in dealing with possible cases of abuse.