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Pope rejects German bishop’s offer to quit over abuse

Published : Friday, 11 June, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 324

ROME, June 10: Pope Francis on Thursday rejected an offer by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a top German bishop, to resign over the mishandling of sexual abuse and cover-up scandals.
"Continue as you propose (in your pastoral work) but as Archbishop of Munich and Freising," the pope wrote to Marx, referring to the position he was offering to vacate.
Marx announced earlier this month that he had offered the pope his resignation over the church's "institutional and systemic failure" in handling child sex abuse scandals.
The stunning decision came after the church in Germany, like in many places elsewhere, was shaken by allegations of wide-ranging abuse by clergymen against minors.
In his letter, the pope agreed with Marx in condemning the "catastrophe" of clerical sexual abuse scandals and the way the Catholic Church dealt with them "until recently".  
"The entire Church is in crisis because of the abuse issue" and "the Church cannot proceed without tackling this crisis", the pope wrote in his native Spanish.
He added: "The ostrich policy (of burying one's head in the sand) leads nowhere."
The pope said the Catholic Church could not "live with the weight of having 'skeletons in the closet', as the saying goes," and said it needed to confess to its sins and "ask for the grace of shame".
Marx led the German Bishops' Conference from 2012 to 2020 -- a period when it commissioned a study which revealed widespread sexual abuse by German clergy.
It found that 1,670 clergymen had committed some type of sexual attack against 3,677 minors, mostly boys, between 1946 and 2014.
The authors said the actual number of victims was almost certainly much higher.
Another report published in March exposed the scope of abuse by priests in Germany's top diocese in Cologne.
Cologne bishop Rainer Maria Woelki, an arch-conservative, faced months of public criticism after he refused last year to allow the publication of an initial study.
He later commissioned the second report, which revealed that 314 minors, mostly boys under the age of 14, were sexually abused between 1975 and 2018 in the western city.
Last month, the pope sent two envoys to Cologne to investigate "possible mistakes" made by Cardinal Woelki.
In his resignation letter, dated May 21 and published on June 4, Marx said: "It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades."    -AFP





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