Cardinal Marx Submits His Resignation

A Thoughtful and Painful Decision Linked to Crisis of Sexual Abuses in Church

Cardinal Marx Resignation
El Papa saluda al cardenal Marx © Vatican Media

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and former President of the German Episcopal Conference submitted his resignation to the Holy Father on May 21 and asked him to accept it. The Pope reserved the right to decide and asked him to remain in office until he has made up his mind. The Holy Father authorized the German Cardinal to publish a letter in which he explains the reasons for his gesture, a letter that was published on the Archdiocese’s Website. The Cardinal has been a member of the Council of Cardinals since 2013 and Coordinator of the Council for the Economy since 2014.

The Disaster of the Abuses

 In his press release, Cardinal Marx explains how he feels responsible for the “disaster of the sexual abuses” committed by persons of the Church in the last decades. He stresses that in the last months he reflected at length on the opportunity to make this gesture. The Archbishop affirms that the crisis does not only regard a necessary improvement of the administration, although it also concerns this, but rather the question of a renewed form of Church and a new way of living and proclaiming the faith today.”

Systemic Causes

 Cardinal Marx says that research on the errors and abuses of the past are an aspect of the matter but do not entail a genuine renewal and points to “systemic causes and structural dangers,” as emerging from the MHG research on sexual abuses. And he added that he is concerned about the fact that in the debate in recent times a tendency has emerged to underestimate these “systemic causes.” “It seems to me that it has reached a ‘dead end’ that, however, could also become a turning point according to my paschal hope,” he continues.

Institutional Responsibility

Recalling that he has been a priest for 42 years, Bishop for 25, and Ordinary of a large diocese for almost 20, the Cardinal says he is ready to assume his responsibility for the errors that he might have committed during his service. “However, in my opinion, it’s not enough to limit oneself to assume responsibility especially for errors in the matter of Canon or Administrative Law. As Bishop, I have an “institutional responsibility” for the acts of the Church as a whole and for her institutional problems and failures of the past.” Cardinal Marx admits that the victims were not truly at the center of the question, “certainly not until 2002 and only since 2010 in a more decisive way. “However, we are nowhere near the objectives,” concludes the Cardinal.

Cardinal Marx ends his letter affirming that it is a personal decision, which was not easy, and that he is ready to assume “personally responsibility not only for eventual errors that I might have committed but for the Church as an institution, which I have contributed to shaping in the last decades.” “It seems to me it has reached a ‘dead end’ that, however, could also become a turning point according to my paschal hope, he concludes.

Here is the text in Italian of the Cardinal’s press release and here is the letter addressed to the Holy Father.