“This is my answer, dear brother. Go on as you suggest, but in your capacity as Archbishop of Munich and Freising,” the head of the Catholic Church wrote in a letter to Cardinal Marx, published by the Holy See on Thursday. “The whole Church is in crisis because of abuse. Even more, the Church cannot take a step forward now without accepting this crisis. Says the very personal letter written by the Argentine Francis in Spanish and initially only translated into German, Marx’s mother tongue.
“I did not expect that”
Marx couldn’t believe the quick answer. “I did not expect that he would act so quickly, nor did I anticipate his decision that I should continue my service as Archbishop of Munich and Freising,” he said in a written statement. Francis presented him with a “big challenge”. After mass at the church in Munich that evening, Marx said he had to “deal with the matter first”.
Just go to the agenda: according to the statement, this is unthinkable for Marx. For him, the decision means “considering new paths we can take—also in the face of a history of multiple failures—to proclaim and bear witness to the gospel,” he said.
“Shared responsibility for the sexual assault catastrophe”
There was also a clear message associated with Marx’s resignation: “At its core, it is about sharing responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse by church officials in recent decades,” Marx wrote to the Pope. Investigations and reports over the past 10 years have consistently shown that there has been “a lot of personal failure and managerial errors”, but also “institutional or systemic failure”.
The Pope replied: “To be aware of hypocrisy in the way of living the faith is a blessing and a first step we must take. We must take responsibility for history, both individually and as a society. In the face of this crime, we cannot remain indifferent. Accepting this means exposing yourself. to the crisis.” When he announced his resignation Friday last week, there was still coordinated action with the Vatican. Completely different this Thursday. Vatican experts were also surprised.