Marx, who has served as archbishop of Munich and Freising since 2007, said that he hoped his resignation would “send a personal signal for a new beginning, for a new awakening of the Church, not only in Germany.”
“I would like to show that not the ministry is in the foreground but the mission of the Gospel. This too is an element of pastoral care. I therefore strongly request you to accept this resignation.”
In April, Marx asked German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier not to bestow the Federal Cross of Merit on him after an outcry among advocates for abuse survivors over the award.
He had been scheduled to receive the Bundesverdienstkreuz, Germany’s only federal decoration, at the Bellevue Palace in Berlin on April 30.
Marx said that he did not want to draw negative attention to other award recipients.
In February 2020, he notified German bishops that he would not stand to be elected to a second term as chairman of the German bishops’ conference. He was succeeded in the post by Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg.
Marx is the second German bishop in recent months to tender his resignation to the pope.
Archbishop Stefan Heße of Hamburg announced that he had taken the step in March, saying: “I have never participated in any cover-up. Nevertheless, I am willing to bear my share of responsibility for the failure of the system.”
Earlier this week, it emerged that Pope Francis has ordered an apostolic visitation of the troubled Cologne archdiocese amid fierce criticism of its handling of abuse cases.
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne announced in December 2020 that he had asked the pope to review the decisions he took regarding an accused priest -- identified only as “Pastor O.” -- in 2015.
In his personal declaration, Marx said that he had repeatedly thought about resigning from office over the past few months.
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“The events and debates of the past weeks, however, only play a subordinate role in this context,” he said, explaining that his request to resign was an “exclusively personal decision.”
He wrote: “With my resignation, I would like to make clear that I am willing to personally bear responsibility not only for any mistakes I might have made but for the Church as an institution which I have helped to shape and mold over the past decades. Recently, it has been said: ‘Coming to terms with the past must hurt.’”
“This decision is not easy for me. I like being a priest and bishop and hope that I can continue to work for the Church in the future. My service for this Church and the people does not end.”
“However, to support a new beginning which is necessary, I would like to bear my share in the responsibility for past events. I believe that the ‘dead end’ we are facing at the moment can become a ‘turning point.’ This is my paschal hope and I will continue praying and working for it to happen.”