— Rome — Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, has submitted his resignation from the governance of the Archdiocese due to the institutional failures of the Church in Germany in dealing with the issue of clerical sexual abuse.
The Archdiocese of Munich posted his letter of resignation on its website on Friday morning, along with a “personal declaration” from Cardinal Marx. In his statement, the Cardinal notes that Pope Francis had given permission to publish the letter, but had asked him to continue to perform his “service as bishop” until a final decision is made.
“It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades,” he wrote in his letter of resignation to Pope Francis, which was dated 21 May.
The abuse crisis in Germany, he said, involves not only “personal failures and administrative mistakes, but also institutional or ‘systemic’ failure.” The crisis of clerical sexual abuse, he says, can only be resolved by following a “synodal path” that is open to changes and reforms in the Church itself.
Cardinal Marx said that, in light of the ongoing crisis, it “is not enough to react only and exclusively as if the files provide proof of the mistakes and failures of individuals. We as bishops have to make clear that we also represent the institution as a whole.”
Cardinal Marx said that the problems are not simply a question of “past times and former Church officials,” and admitted “that through remaining silent, neglecting to act, and over-focussing on the reputation of the Church I have made myself personally guilty and responsible.” He added, “overlooking and disregarding the victims was certainly our greatest fault of the past.”
In his “personal declaration,” Cardinal Marx expressed his concern over “a trend that has become apparent over the last months to exclude the systemic causes and hazards or, if we point a finger on it, the fundamental theological questions, and to reduce the process of dealing with the past to an improvement of administrative processes.”
He concluded, “With my resignation, I would like to make it 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 mould over the past decades.” Cardinal Marx added that he would continue to work for the Church in the future: “My service for this Church and the people does not end.”