Pope Francis on Thursday rejected German Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s resignation over the clerical sex abuse crisis in Germany, instead issuing a reform plan for the German Catholic Church.
Marx, who is the archbishop of Munich and Freising, is not suspected of abuse or cover-up in the crisis. However, he said he needs to share the responsibility for sexual abuse by clerics over past decades.
The pope said in his rejection letter that Marx’s attempt to resign is understandable and honorable, but there is a greater need for him to continue as archbishop and carry out the process of reform.
"You tell me that you are going through a moment of crisis, and not only you but also the Church in Germany is experiencing it," Francis said in his letter. "The whole Church is in crisis because of the abuse issue; Furthermore, the Church today cannot take a step forward without assuming this crisis. We are asked for a reform, which – in this case – does not consist in words but in attitudes that have the courage to face the crisis.”
A 2018 report about sexual abuse by clerics in Germany found at least 3,677 reports were documented within the county's Catholic Church from 1946 to 2014. More than half of the cases were with children 13 years and younger.
Such cases over roughly that period were reported in countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Chile and much of Europe.