Cardinal Marx resigns to force bishops to confront abuse scandal

He is one of the leaders of the world Church. Cardinal of Münich, until a year ago president of the powerful German Church, and member of the C-6, the group of cardinals that advises Francis on the reform of the Vatican Curia. Reinhard Marx, at 67 years old (he turns 68 in September, so he is seven of the retirement age), has just submitted his resignation to the Pope. The reason? “Share responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse in the Church in recent decades,” as the cardinal himself pointed out in the letter written to the Pope on May 21, and that Bergoglio himself has allowed him to make public.

The movement of Marx, which has the express support of Francisco – “You must continue your episcopal service until you make a decision” has been the papal response, which has not accepted the resignation – claims, according to the sources consulted by, cause a ‘domino effect’ in a German episcopate weighed down by sexual abuse and cover-up accusations, which have led the Vatican to order an in-depth investigation of the country’s largest diocese, Cologne. His cardinal, Rainer Maria Woelki, is pilloried for a “systematic cover-up” of clerical pedophilia. Woelki, curiously, is one of the leaders of the opposition to the reforms proposed by the German Church in its ‘Synod Way’: blessing of homosexual couples, access of women to the priesthood, greater participation and co-responsibility of the laity …

Marx, who was president of the country’s episcopate for a decade, assumes his responsibility on behalf of all, but calls on the rest of the bishops to do the same. “There have been many personal failures and administrative errors, but also institutional and systemic failures,” says the cardinal, who adds that some in the Church do not want to admit that co-responsibility and, therefore, also complicity of the institution, and are opposed to any reform and renewal of the dialogue in relation to the abuse crisis. ”

“I would like to make it clear: I am ready to take personal responsibility, not only for my own mistakes, but for the church as an institution, which I have helped shape and mold for decades,” Marx concludes. Vatican sources recall how the Pope promoted something similar, a few years ago, with the Chilean Church, obtaining the full resignation of the country’s episcopate. And, as the cardinal points out in his letter, “the (German) Catholic Church has reached a dead end.” With his resignation, “I want to show that it is not the position that is in the foreground, but the mandate of the Gospel.”

Marx’s decision comes in the context of the creation of a commission to investigate abuse cases in the diocese of Cologne, which will analyze “possible errors” by Cardinal Woelki, who last March admitted that there was a “systemic cover-up” of cases of child abuse, after knowing a report that analyzes dozens of them between 1975 and 2018.

The commission, made up of the Cardinal Archbishop of Stockholm Anders Arborelius and the Bishop of Rotterdam and President of the Dutch Episcopal Conference, Johannes von den Hende, begins its work this weekend, which is expected to last for two weeks, and to open the path for a profound renewal in the structures of the country’s Catholic Church, deeply divided between the ultra-conservative sector and the open-minded, who have promoted the ‘Synodal Way’ to show Rome the path for the Catholic Church to adapt to the times .

The announcement of the investigation came weeks after Cardinal Woelki acknowledged that in the archdiocese’s administration there was “chaos” and a “system of silence, secrecy and lack of control” after publishing a report commissioned from a Cologne law firm to examine the behavior of the hierarchs of the Catholic Church in that archdiocese.

The report found that senior leaders of the Catholic Church knew of cases of sexual abuse of minors but failed to comply with their duty to report them properly and act.

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