Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, the law firm that produced the study, presented the report’s conclusions at a press conference in Munich.
Marx was not present at the event and Marion Westpfahl, a founding partner of the firm, lamented the cardinal’s absence as she presented the report.
In a brief statement hours after the report’s publication, Marx said that he was “shocked and ashamed” at its findings.
The authors of the “Report on the Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Adults by Clerics, as well as [other] Employees, in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising from 1945 to 2019” also accused Pope emeritus Benedict XVI of mishandling four cases during his tenure as Munich archbishop from 1977 to 1982.
The 94-year-old retired pope, who strongly denies cover-up allegations, sent 82 pages of observations to investigators compiling the report.
Addressing the report’s criticisms of his own actions, Marx said he felt it was inappropriate to offer defensive arguments, but promised to examine the cases carefully with experts.
“Not to defend myself,” he said, “but to learn from them and to implement changes. I also see administrative and communicative failures here. But in one case I blame myself for not really actively approaching those affected.”
In April 2021, 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.
Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising since 2007, said that he did not want to draw negative attention to other award recipients.
Peter Bringmann-Henselder, a member of the affected persons’ advisory board of Cologne archdiocese, had urged the president to withhold the honor, citing Marx’s handling of cases when he was bishop of Trier in 2001–2007.
(Story continues below)
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The official web portal of the Catholic Church in Germany reported in June 2021 that Marx’s actions in Trier would be “comprehensively investigated” by an independent commission on behalf of the diocese that has been led by Bishop Stephan Ackermann since 2009.
Speaking at Thursday’s press conference, Marx highlighted the German Church’s “Synodal Way,” a multi-year process bringing together bishops and lay people to discuss power, sexual morality, the priesthood, and the role of women in the Church.
He said that “it is now important to push ahead with the reform steps as discussed in the Synodal Way and as they will also be put on the agenda in the synodal process in the worldwide Church. I want to remain committed to this. For without a truly profound renewal, reappraisal will ultimately not succeed.”
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