German Cdl. Marx offers resignation: Church has reached ‘dead end’
German Cdl. Marx offers resignation: Church has reached ‘dead end’
‘I continue to enjoy being a priest and a bishop of this Church and I will keep committing myself in pastoral matter, wherever you deem it reasonable and useful,’ Marx told the Pope.

[Image: Cardinal-Marx1000_810_500_75_s_c1.jpg]

MUNICH, June 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — In a move that appears to have been totally unexpected, Cardinal Reinhard Marx has revealed that he has tendered his resignation to Pope Francis as Archbishop of Munich and Freising. The German cardinal, who also holds top positions in the Vatican, obtained permission from the Pope to make public the letter of resignation he had sent him on May 21; it was posted on the Archdiocese’s website this Friday morning, together with a statement from Marx, who also answered questions at a press conference in the early afternoon.

The reason Marx gave for his offer to resign, long before the “legal” age of 75 (he is only 67 and has stressed that he is not “tired of office or demotivated”) was the personal responsibility he feels for the failure of people in the Church, but also of the Church itself as an institution, in handling the sex abuse crisis over the last decades.

The Church has reached a “dead end,” the cardinal stated.

Beyond the acceptance of personal accountability — not only does the resignation place the cardinal in a favorable light, it also automatically puts pressure on others to take similar steps — the rationale behind the move is quite clear: It makes out that the Church’s profound state of crisis requires new solutions, including the “Synodal Path” which has been undertaken by the Catholic Church in Germany, opening the way to revolutionary consensus with its most progressive sections.

Indeed, in some ways the resignation appears as a way or even a maneuver to promote Pope Francis’ own project of a “synodal” Church — although the more cynical are saying that Marx wants to step down to preempt problems related to his own management of the sex abuse crisis that are sure to come to the light in the near future. Die Welt called the resignation a “humility maneuver” prompted by the fact that Marx would soon be facing further accusations of mishandling the sex abuse crisis.

Whether this is true or not is not the main issue. The resignation appears to be more of a gesture than anything else, as Reinhard Marx has not voiced any intention whatsoever of backing down from his eminent roles in the Vatican, both as a member of Pope Francis’ “privy council” of cardinal advisers for the reform of the Curia, now known as the C6, and as the president of Francis’ Council for the Economy.

It will now be up to the Pope to accept or refuse his resignation; meanwhile, Cardinal Marx will remain at the head of his archdiocese for business as usual. One senior Vatican source is even of the opinion that Pope Francis wants to call Cardinal Marx to Rome.

What is plain to the eyes is that even in his resignation letter Marx is using language and ideas that are in agreement with Pope Francis’ objectives. From there to wondering whether this is a deeply “political” move is but a step.

In his May 21 letter, whose English translation was made available online together with the original German text, cardinal Marx said the present crisis affecting the Church in Germany and in the whole world “has also been caused by our own failure, our own guilt.” “My impression is that we are at a ‘dead end’ which, and this is my paschal hope, also has the potential of becoming a ‘turning point,’” he added in the opening lines of his letter.

Which clearly puts his initiative in a dynamic setting: the objective is change.

Marx’s decision to offer his resignation was a personal one, he stated in his letter.
Quote: “In essence, it is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades. The investigations and reports of the last ten years have consistently shown that there have been many personal failures and administrative mistakes but also institutional or ‘systemic’ failure. The recent debates have shown that some members of the Church refuse to believe that there is a shared responsibility in this respect and that the Church as an institution is hence also to be blamed for what has happened and therefore disapprove of discussing reforms and renewal in the context of the sexual abuse crisis.”

Marx is on a different path, his letter made clear. He wrote: 
Quote:“I firmly have a different opinion. Both aspects have to be considered: mistakes for which you are personally responsible and the institutional failure which requires changes and a reform of the Church. A turning point out of this crisis is, in my opinion, only possible if we take a ‘synodal path,’ a path which actually enables a ‘discernment of spirits’ as you have repeatedly emphasized and reiterated in your letter to the Church in Germany.”

Both expressions: “Synodal Path” and “discernment of spirits” are dear to the Pope and have been used repeatedly to justify developments beyond the traditional doctrine and discipline of the Church. They point to a democratic approach to power and the definition of what is to be believed and to be done, with a possibility of change as a result of the will of the people, both the ordained and the laity. They also point to a subjective understanding of morality, where circumstances trump principles.

In Germany, under Cardinal Marx’s leadership — he was at the head of the country’s bishops’ conference until 2020 — the Synodal Path is open to the progressive German laity and is set to promote all manner of modern reforms, from the place of women in the Church to the revamping of sexual morality, as the German grumbling at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s responsum regarding the impossibility of blessing same-sex unions has shown.

By focusing not on the faults and errors of individual pastors of the Church in the sex abuse crisis, but by taking the responsibility for it as a bishop who represents “the institution of the Church as a whole,” Marx has actually designated the Church as responsible. In his letter to Pope Francis, he wrote:
Quote: “I feel that through remaining silent, neglecting to act and over-focusing on the reputation of the Church I have made myself personally guilty and responsible.”

But the words make clear that in the cardinal’s mind, it is the Church as such that is guilty and responsible
Quote:“In the aftermath of the MHG survey commissioned by the German Bishops’ Conference I stated in the Cathedral of Munich that we have failed. But who is this ‘We’? In fact, I also belong to this circle. And this means I must also draw personal consequences from this. This is becoming increasingly clear to me,” he wrote.

But by the resignation through which he wants to assume responsibility, Marx wants to obtain results. He says it very plainly at the end of his letter:
Quote:“In doing so, I may be able to 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.”

Is Marx talking about a great reset of the Church? Where priesthood (“ministry”) is downplayed — as well as the Tradition of the Church — to go back to “the Gospel”?

Interestingly, the new papal Nuncio in Paris, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, had not unsimilar thoughts to offer to the clergy of the diocese of Rennes in Brittany, France, earlier this year. In his January 28 conference, Migliore explained that he wanted to present Pope Francis’ vision for the Church in a secularized world that is experiencing not a “time of change” but a “change of times.”

Quote:“Pope Francis has understood that the Church, similar to the human society inside of which it is placed, has reached a breaking point. Not a break with its biblical foundations, its doctrine and its tradition, but truly a break with its way of incarnating the Word of God, the doctrine and the tradition of the Church. A break in the domain of governance and the relations between the different members of the Church … In our world, the faith shall only be saved if it returns to the power of its original Word: the Word of Jesus Christ and, therefore, the Word transmitted by the four evangelists.”

He also stressed “another focus dear to Pope Francis, synodality,” which he equated with an “outward-going Church” that meets the world in “dialogue” in a “mystique of fraternity” while abandoning “ecclesio-centrism.”

He went on to complain about the excessive focus (in his view) on the Eucharist — “so much so that when the urgency of the pandemic in practice made its public celebration impossible, the whole edifice collapsed and it seemed that nothing was left standing.”

This is a far cry from Bossuet’s definition of the Church: “Jesus Christ spread and communicated.”

“There is a serious risk of regression — after fifty years of conciliar reform — to a conception of the sacrament as a rite that always functions, because it is endowed with a supernatural automatism,” said Migliore. He went on to speak about synodality which calls for going beyond “certain paradigms … such as the concentration of responsibility in the ministry of Pastors.”

This exposé of the Pope’s politics for the Church by one of his senior ambassadors strongly resonates with Marx’s latest move — Marx who is so close to Francis, and whose publication of his private resignation letter was approved, if not willed by the Pope.

In Germany, cardinal Marx’s resignation elicited both praise and dismay from the most progressive faction of the Church. Bishop Georg Bätzing, the current head of the bishops’ conference, expressed “great respect” for the cardinal’s decision, acknowledging his role in showing the way for the “Church in Germany” at the head of that institution. Recalling the sex abuse crisis, Bätzing added:

Quote:Cardinal Marx sees his offer of resignation from office as a personal response to this situation. Irrespective of this, however, the German Bishops’ Conference and the dioceses must continue to fulfill their responsibility to continue on the path of coming to terms with the cases of sexual abuse that they embarked upon in 2010. The Synodal Path was launched to search for systemic answers to the crisis. The fundamental theological discussions that inform the Synodal Path are therefore an essential and important part in this process.

Confirming the importance of Marx’s offer of resignation from the point of view of Church politics, Bätzing’s statement concluded:

Quote:“I can understand Cardinal Marx’s decision. His offer of resignation makes it clear that the Church in Germany must continue the Synodal Path it has embarked upon. Pope Francis himself emphasizes that he wants synodality and the Synodal Path as a discernment for the whole Church.”

The president of the progressive Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK, one of the official interlocutors of the Synodal Path), Thomas Sternberg, said he was “deeply shocked” by Marx’s offer to step down. “There goes the wrong one,” he told the Rheinische Post. “What Marx achieved in ecumenism, in the Synodal Path, and also in dealing with abuse, was very important.”

Sternberg added that Marx intended to spend part of his private fortune to fund the “Spes and Salus” Foundation created by the cardinal of Munich and Freising to help those affected by sexual abuse: the €500,000 gift (more than $600,000) was announced last December.

Others, such as the German child protection expert from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome,” the Jesuit priest Hans Zollner, said the offer of resignation was an “extremely important sign that deserves great respect.” The word “respect” frequently appears in the reactions of German leaders, while Maria Flachsbarth, president of the Catholic German Women’s Association, added her thanks for Marx’s “clear words for the renewal of the Church and for the continuation of the Synodal Path.”

Marx himself wrote:
Quote:An American journalist asked me during a conversation about the sexual abuse crisis in the Church and the events of the year 2010: „Eminence, did this change your faith?“ And I replied: „Yes, it did!“ Afterwards it became clearer to me what I had said. The crisis not only concerns a required improvement of the administration — although it does concern it — but it is even more about the question of a renewed form of the Church and a new way to live and proclaim faith today.

Finally, in his letter to Pope Francis, Cardinal Marx said:
Quote: “I continue to enjoy being a priest and a bishop of this Church and I will keep committing myself in pastoral matter, wherever you deem it reasonable and useful. In the next years of my service, I would like to increasingly dedicate myself to pastoral care and support an ecclesiastical renewal of the Church which you also call for incessantly.”

[Emphasis mine.]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Pope Francis tells Cardinal Marx to remain in his post as archbishop of Munich
It is clear that we are dealing with a well-planned event that has its purposes. So what are the purposes of this public stunt?

June 10, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis published today a letter addressed to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, telling him that he does not accept Marx’s recent offer to resign. The Pope’s letter asks Marx to remain in his position. This move makes many observers wonder why Marx's offer to resign was publicized in the first place.

Vatican News published today German, Spanish, and Italian versions of the entire letter written by Pope Francis.

The Pope speaks to Marx about “confirming your mission and not accepting your resignation” and thanks him for his “Christian courage which is not afraid of the cross and which does not shy away from humbling itself in the face of the reality of sin.” In this, Pope Francis sees a “grace that the Lord has given you and I see that you wish to accept it and to preserve it in order to make it fruitful.”

Furthermore, the Pope speaks of the crisis in the Church in Germany which exists because of the “abuse.” He adds that one has to “accept” the crisis in order to make it fruitful.

In a surprising comment, Pope Francis explains that “the ‘mea culpa’ in the face of so many mistakes in the past has been pronounced by us more than once, in many situations, even if we personally were not involved in this historic phase.”

This seems to be surprising given the fact that both Pope Francis and Cardinal Marx have been accused of misconduct with regard to sex abuse cases. And both have already admitted in public of having committed mistakes in this regard.

In any event, Pope Francis stresses in his letter to the German cardinal that now, in light of the abuse crisis, it is time for “reform.” Here, we take especially note of his words “wherever that will lead us”:

Quote:And it is precisely this behavior that is being asked of us today. We are asked to reform, which – in this case – does not consist in words, but in behaviors that have the courage to face this crisis, to accept the reality, wherever that will lead us.

Cardinal Marx, only a few days ago, offered Pope Francis his resignation. On June 4, he published a letter (also in English) that he had written on May 21 to Pope Francis and which he had already discussed with the Pope in person.

Speaking about the crisis in the Church due to the many cases of clerical sex abuse and its cover-up, Marx admits his own guilt, saying that “this crisis has also been caused by our own failure, by our own guilt.” This prelate thus wants to “share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades.” And he thinks that the Church is “at a dead end,” but hopes that this will become a “turning point.” For Cardinal Marx, of course, the solution for this crisis is the much-debated and controversial German “Synodal Path” that so far has been questioning priestly celibacy, the hierarchical structure of the Church, the all-male priesthood, and the ban on blessings for homosexual couples.

That Cardinal Marx did not intend with this letter to go into real retirement becomes clear at its end, where he stresses that he “continues” to “enjoy being a priest and a bishop of this Church.”

“In the next years of my service,” he adds, “I would like to increasingly dedicate myself to pastoral care and support an ecclesiastical renewal of the Church which you also call for incessantly.”

Since Cardinal Marx had previously spoken with Pope Francis about this letter, and since Pope Francis gave him his approval for publishing this private letter, it is clear that we are dealing with a well-planned event that has its purposes.

So what are the purposes of this public stunt?

First of all, Cardinal Marx presents himself in a “humility maneuver,” as the German journalist Lucas Wiegelmann of Die Welt called it. He wonders whether this offer of resignation was a way for Cardinal Marx to avoid having to face many questions concerning his own behavior in the abuse crisis. Cardinal Marx has already publicly admitted to having mishandled an abuse case as bishop of the Diocese of Trier. New studies that are being undertaken now might unearth more unresolved cases of mishandling. And in fact, by the Pope's decision to keep Cardinal Marx in Munich, he seems to be giving him a free pass on his own involvement in the sex abuse crisis.

Another aspect of this entire maneuver could also be that the Pope and Marx wished to exert some influence on Cardinal Reinhard Woelki, an opponent of the radical proposals of the Synodal Path, to take a similar step of resignation in light of the sex abuse crisis that has been rocking his own Archdiocese of Cologne for quite some time now.

There were also other sources who thought that Pope Francis means to prepare Marx for a post in Rome, either as the head of the Congregation for the Clergy or for some position in the government of the Vatican. After all, Marx already holds important positions in Rome, being a member of the Pope's personal Council of Cardinals – counseling the pope with regard to his curial reform – and as  secretary of the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy.

But perhaps this entire public event was merely aimed at indirectly supporting the German Synodal Path. After all, both actors – the Pope and Marx – support “reform” in the Church, and more specifically the “synodal” way of steering the Church into revolutionary changes. It was Pope Francis who had pushed the Italian bishops' conference into recently opening up their own synodal path, and he also announced a three-year-long synodal path on synodality for the whole Church, which is to begin next year.

Could it be that the Pope is giving here Marx his stamp of approval for his radical reform? Rudolf Gehrig, a German journalist working for CNA Deutsch and EWTN Deutsch, writes today on Twitter: “‘This again encourages us to continue the ‘Synodal Path’ in this form.’  – this reaction will surely come soon. Wait and see. #Marx”

Only a few hours later, the same journalist quotes Thomas Sternberg, the lay head of the German Synodal Path, with the words: “this shows me that it is wrong to assume in the Vatican a closed bloc of rejecters of the 'Synodal Path' and the need for reform. (...) But the Pope's letter to #Marx shows the opposite.”

An interesting angle to this story is also a new intervention by Cardinal Walter Kasper, a close confidant of the Pope, certainly in matters of Germany. He shows himself now “very worried” about the Synodal Path and hopes that it will enter “Catholic” paths. He argues against a general intercommunion for all, sees still some “open questions,” but then admits that he himself has “never” refused a Protestant at the Communion rail. He reports that he has seen many “annoyed” reactions from Catholics in other countries who are weary of being told by Germans what to do. He proposes to rediscover the “radicality of the Gospels.”

It will have to be seen whether this Kasper intervention is part of this public maneuver, whether his role is to assure people in the world that the German path is too radical and that Rome will not let them get away with it. His role then could be to appease concerned Catholics in the world, while the Pope keeps pursuing his radical path of reform either by way of the Italian bishops or by way of his planned three-year-long synodal process.

Might it be that at the end of this process, the Church will stand deserted, similar to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, where individual Masses are rarely to be found anymore? Pope Francis cancelled them during Lent, with reference to Lent, but afterwards they were never resumed with the normal schedule. St. Peter's, too, has been emptied of Our Lord's presence.

One source in the Vatican suggested that this maneuver was more a political maneuver aimed at increasing the public image of the two men involved. But power politics, too, finally leads to the emptying of the Church. One has to pray for deliverance of this evil.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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