The Pope rejected on Thursday German Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s resignation as archbishop of Munich over the Church’s sexual abuse crisis, saying he agreed that it was a worldwide “catastrophe” but that the prelate should not leave office.
Earlier this month, Marx offered to step down, noting that he had to share institutional liability for sexual abuse by clerics over past decades.
Pope Francis pointed out, in a letter to Marx written Thursday and released by the Vatican, that he understood the motivation behind the cardinal’s offer to step down, but would not accept it.
“That is my answer, dear Brother. Continue as you suggest, but as Archbishop of Munich,” the Pope told Marx in the letter.
Marx, a former head of Germany’s Catholic bishops conference, is not under any suspicion of having participated in abuse or cover-ups.
Pope Francis said: “I agree with you that this is a catastrophe: the sad history of sexual abuse and the way the Church approached it until recently.”
“Becoming aware of hypocrisy in the way we live our faith is a grace and a first step that we must take. We have to take responsibility for this history, both as individuals and as a community. We cannot remain indifferent in the face of this crime,” he said in the letter.