(CNS photo/Julia Steinbrecht, KNA)

June 11, 2021

The Cardinal Archbishop of Munich and Freising responds to Pope Francis’ invitation to continue in his post “in obedience”. Commenting on the letter with which the Pope rejected his resignation and urged him to continue in his service as Archbishop, the Cardinal says “it is time for change.”

By Alessandro De Carolis – Vatican City

“In a spirit of obedience I accept his decision.” This sentence stands out among others that seal a close exchange of letters, a long-distance conversation that arouses surprise and emotion in Cardinal Marx. To his letter of 21 May, in which the Cardinal asked to resign from his post as pastor of Munich and Freising, Pope Francis replied on Thursday, 10 June, inviting him to stay on. The Cardinal immediately expressed his assent to the Pope’s will.

“I was not counting on such a quick reaction,” writes Cardinal Marx in the text published on the archdiocese’s website, “nor was I expecting the decision that I should continue in my service.”

He adds that he was struck by the “fraternal tone” of the Pope’s words, by the perception of having been understood with regard the reasons that led to his request to resign –  a request that was based on the tragedy the the German Church is going through due to the abuse crisis. Reiterating his acceptance of the Pope’s decision, the German Archbishop referred to what he expressed in his letter, and stressed the need to “seek new paths” to follow, also in view of a history of multiple failures, to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel.

For Cardinal Marx, now is a time for reflection on how to “contribute even more to the renewal of the Church,” starting with the “important” insights that Francis offers in his letter. However, the Cardinal emphasizes, “What I had stressed in my statement remains valid: namely, that I myself must assume personal and also ‘institutional’ responsibility,” particularly with regard to the victims.

The Pope’s decision, Cardinal Marx acknowledges, “represents a great challenge for me” and therefore, he concludes, returning “simply to the agenda of ‘yesterday’ cannot be the way forward, neither for me nor for the archdiocese”.

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