Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a top Catholic official in Germany, has offered to resign to share responsibility for the “catastrophe of sexual abuse” by church officials.
In a letter to Pope Francis sent on May 21 that was published on Friday Jun. 11, Marx said that investigations and reports over the past 10 years have consistently shown several personal failures and administrative mistakes, as well as institutional or systemic failures.
“I feel that through remaining silent, neglecting to act and over-focusing on the reputation of the Church I have made myself personally guilty and responsible,” he added.
He said that he felt that “we have failed” after a 2018 report from Germany’s Catholic Church found at least 3,677 cases of child sex abuse by at least 1,670 clergy between 1946 and 2014.
According to the report, most of the victims were mostly boys, with more than half aged 13 or younger, and one in six cases was a rape. “But who is this ‘We’?” he wrote. “I also belong to this circle. And this means that I must also draw personal consequences from this.”
He added that his resignation is a way to express a willingness to take responsibility and that he hoped his actions could be “signal for a new beginning, for a new awakening.”
Pope Francis has not yet accepted his resignation, and Marx has been told to stay in the post until a decision is made, according to a statement from the Archdiocese in Munich.