“The studies and reports of the last ten years have shown time and again that there have been many personal and administrative errors, but also institutional or ‘systemic’ failures,” the letter continues.
Pope Francis has not yet accepted Marx’s resignation and the archbishop is to remain in office until a decision is made, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Munich. It also noted that Marx “has repeatedly considered resigning over the past few months”. Marx told journalists on Friday that “the Pope himself wanted to see my letter published”.
“It is painful for me to see how badly the reputation of the bishops has been damaged in ecclesiastical and secular perception, which is perhaps even the lowest,” wrote Marx in the letter. “I feel that I have made myself personally guilty and accountable for staying silent, not acting, and focusing too much on the reputation of the Church.”
Quoting this report in his letter of resignation, Marx noted that after its publication he publicly stated that “we have failed”.
“But who is this ‘we’?” he wrote. “I also belong to this group. And that means that I have to draw personal conclusions from it.”
“I believe one way of expressing this willingness to take responsibility is by stepping down,” he added, saying that he hoped his actions could “signal a new beginning, a new awakening” for the Church be.
“We have always pointed out that the Catholic Church’s abuse crisis is not a series of isolated cases, but rather a systemic failure. As the leader in this system, Cardinal Marx has now personally decided to take responsibility for an exemplary act, as those affected have long been calling for, “said Katsch, spokesman for the Eckiger Tisch survivor group.
Katsch added that he hoped Marx’s move would bring survivor-backed initiatives to the fore, including setting up a truth commission and compensating victims.
A cover-up ‘
“Possible errors and omissions in individual cases that were committed during my term of office and which then have to be checked and assessed according to objective criteria will have to be examined in detail for me,” wrote Marx in his letter.
A complaint of abuse in the diocese of Cardinal Munich is due to take place this year.
At a Vatican summit in February 2019, Marx admitted that documents that might have contained evidence of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church had been destroyed or never produced.
“Files that could have documented the terrible acts and named those responsible were destroyed or not created at all,” said Marx at the summit.
“The prescribed procedures and processes for the persecution offenses were deliberately not adhered to … such standard practices will make it clear that it is not the transparency of the church that harms, but the acts of abuse committed, the lack of transparency or the subsequent cover-up.”
At a later press conference during the summit, Marx said the information about the destruction of files came from a study commissioned by German bishops in 2014. The study was “scientific” and did not name the respective church leaders or dioceses in Germany who destroyed the files.
In April of this year, Marx told the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier that he would not accept the “Federal Cross of Merit” – the highest state honor for individual services to the nation – because victims of abuse would have found it offensive.
“It is my big request to you not to carry out the award,” he said. “I am convinced that this is the right step with consideration for those who are obviously offended by the award and, above all, with consideration for those affected.”
According to government figures from 2019, around 27% of the German population are Catholic. However, Catholics have resigned from the Church in steady droves over the past 60 years, with the proportion of the Catholic population falling from 45.9% to 27.2% between 1956 and 2019.
Marx, born in North Rhine-Westphalia in 1953, became a priest in 1979 and bishop in 1996.
In 2007 he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. elevated to the position of Archbishop of Munich and Friesing, who once also held this office. In 2013 he was appointed to the Council of Cardinals, a group of nine cardinals who advise the Pope.
He was also chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference – the governing body of the country’s Catholic Church – until he refused to run for a second term last year, saying, “I think it should be the turn of the younger generation and maybe it is It is good if this role changes hands more frequently in the future. “
Marx said on Friday that the church had to learn “from the crisis” of sexual abuse: “We are not yet at the end of the road.”