a top adviser to
and one of the most powerful figures in the German Catholic Church, offered the pope his resignation, saying he was taking responsibility for the church’s institutional failures to prevent clerical sex abuse, his archdiocese said on Friday.
The surprise move, by one of the leaders of the German Catholic hierarchy’s response to the sex-abuse crisis, is the latest blow to a church that has lost hundreds of thousands of adherents in recent years amid revelations of abuse.
The cardinal wrote to the pope that he was asking to step down “to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by church officials over the past decades.”
The crisis over sex abuse by Catholic clergy in Germany has intensified since a 2018 report that documented thousands of cases over the previous decades.
Last week, the Vatican announced that it would be undertaking its own investigation of the Archdiocese of Cologne, the largest church jurisdiction in Germany. In March, Archbishop
of Hamburg offered his resignation over allegations of mishandling sex-abuse cases in his previous role as an official in Cologne. The archbishop is currently on a leave of absence.
Cardinal Marx’s resignation comes ahead of a new report that he commissioned on the handling of sex-abuse allegations in his own Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. The report by an external law firm, expected to be published later this year, aims to shed light on how those in charge handled alleged abuse cases over a period of several decades.
In a statement on Friday, Cardinal Marx acknowledged “possible mistakes and failures in individual cases to be investigated in detail,” but said he was resigning “to make clear that I am willing to personally bear responsibility not only for any mistakes I might have made but for the Church as an institution which I have helped to shape and mold over the past decades.”
The cardinal submitted his resignation on May 21, his office said Friday, adding that the pope hasn’t yet told him whether his resignation would be accepted.
Cardinal Marx was bishop of Trier from 2001 to 2007, when Pope
appointed him archbishop of Munich. Pope Benedict raised him to the college of cardinals in 2010.
Pope Francis made Cardinal Marx a major figure at the Vatican, naming the German to his advisory Council of Cardinals and making him head of the Council for the Economy, which oversees the financial affairs of the Holy See.
In April, Cardinal Marx declined to receive a prestigious decoration, the Federal Cross of Merit, from Germany’s head of state, after abuse victims complained that his role in handling several abuse cases hadn’t been investigated.
“I take the criticism that is now being voiced by people who have been affected by sexual abuse in the church very seriously, regardless of the accuracy of the individual statements in open letters and in the media,” Cardinal Marx wrote to German President
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