Pope Francis has refused to accept the resignation of a German archbishop over the church’s mishandling of abuse cases.
German Cardinal Reinhard Marx offered his resignation last week over the “failure” of the German Catholic Church to deal with “the catastrophe of sexual abuse”.
In a stunning letter, the bishop said that the Catholic Church was facing a “dead end” but said he hoped his dismissal could be a “turning point”.
But the Vatican rejected his resignation on Thursday and said Cardinal Marx must stay on as Archbishop of Munich and Freising.
Pope Francis thanked Marx “for his courage”, but refused to relieve him of his duties, stating that a process of reform was necessary and that every bishop must take responsibility for the crisis.
“I agree with you that we are dealing with a catastrophe: the sad history of sexual abuse and the way the Church has dealt with it until recently,” Pope Francis’ letter said.
“And that is precisely my response, dear brother. Continue as you suggest, but as Archbishop of Munich and Freising.”
Marx, who was president of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) from 2014 to 2020, caused great shock across the Church by resigning last week.
A 2018 report on sexual abuse, commissioned by the DBK, revealed that 3,677 children were abused by 1,670 clerics.
The abuse scandal in the German Catholic Church resulted in the resignations of an estimated 270,000 officials
“As a bishop, I have an ‘institutional responsibility’ for the acts of the Church in its entirety as well as for its institutional problems and failures in the past,” Marx had said in his letter.
“I am concerned about the fact that a trend has become apparent over the past 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.”