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German archbishop offers to resign over Church’s sexual abuse ‘catastrophe’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, addresses a press conference in Munich, southern Germany, on June 4, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

One of Germany's most senior Catholic clerics has offered his resignation to Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, over the decades-long “catastrophe” of sexual abuse by church members.

German Cardinal Reinhard Marx offered his resignation from his position as archbishop of Munich and Freising, saying the Catholic Church had reached a "dead point,” and that he intended to take a share of responsibility for the “catastrophe of sexual abuse” by clerics.

"In essence, for me it is about sharing responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse by church officials in the past few decades," Marx wrote in a letter to the pope dated May 21 and published on Friday by his archdiocese in Munich.

Marx said investigations and reports of the past 10 years showed him there had not only been "a lot of personal failure and administrative errors," but "also institutional and systemic failure" within the Catholic Church.

Recent discussions have shown "that some in the church do not want to acknowledge this element of co-responsibility and thus also complicity of the institution and are therefore opposed to any reform and renewal dialogue in connection with the abuse crisis," he wrote in the letter.

The senior German cleric expressed hope that his departure would create space for a new beginning.

Pope Francis has yet to respond to Marx, but is said to have asked the 67-year-old to remain in his role until he received an answer.

Pope Francis on Tuesday issued the most extensive revision to Catholic Church law in four decades, insisting that bishops take action against clerics who abuse minors and vulnerable adults, commit fraud or attempt to ordain women.

Marx has previously apologized on behalf of the Catholic Church to the victims of sexual abuse.

In April, he rejected the Federal Cross of Merit amid criticism from victims' groups over the Catholic Church's response to child sexual abuse reports.

Marx had been president of the German Bishops' Conference from 2012 to 2020.

A study commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference under Marx's presidency and released in 2018 showed that 1,670 clergymen had committed a type of sexual attack against 3,677 minors, mostly boys, from 1946 through 2014.

The study found that the number of victims was certainly much higher.

Germany's Catholic Church counted 22.6 million members in 2019 and remains the largest religion in the country. 

The Catholic Church is in the midst of a major crisis of confidence around the world, with multiple revelations of sexual assault and abuse committed by priests over the course of decades, mostly targeting children

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