In a response dated June 10, 2021, Pope Francis refused Cardinal Reinhard Marx's request to resign from his post as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, which he presented to the Pope on June 4.
In his letter, Cardinal Marx noted the crisis which is shaking the Church of Germany. He indicated that he wanted to assume co-responsibility through this resignation. He added that according to him, the institution - meaning the Church herself - had been failing, and that the only way forward was “a change and a reform of the Church” as proposed by the Synodal Path.
The Pope responded to the man who is one of his closest advisers, since he is part of the small group of cardinals - seven at this time - who are working out the reform of the Roman Curia and related subjects, replying that “all the Church is in crisis” because of the abuse case. This is no reason to play ostrich politics, he adds.
After a long digression about the way to approach this crisis, the Pope ended by repeating the words of Cardinal Marx, who wanted to continue to serve the Church “in a more intense way to pastoral care and committed to a spiritual renewal of the Church,” and asking him to do so as Archbishop of Munich and Freising.
The letter, written in Spanish, was published by the Press Office of the Holy See.
There is much to question about this publication, but it undoubtedly finds its explanation in the fact that the Pope had authorized Cardinal Marx to publish his letter of resignation.
Upon receipt of this letter, the high prelate issued a press release to notify his obedience to the papal decision.
He said, however, that he felt he has been understood and that “simply going back to the agenda cannot be the way for me and also not for the archdiocese.”
Cardinal Marx then clarified his thinking: “It also means that we must reflect on what new ways we can go – even in the face of a history of multiple failures - to proclaim and witness to the Gospel.”
“In the next few weeks, I will think about how we can together contribute even more to the renewal of the Church here in our archdiocese and as a whole; because the pope takes up much of what I mentioned in my letter to him and gives us important impulses.”
“What I also underlined in my declaration remains: that I have to bear personal responsibility and also have an ‘institutional responsibility,’ especially in view of those affected, whose perspective needs to be included even more effectively.”
In other words, Cardinal Marx comes out reaffirmed in his views of this epistolary to-and-fro, and he clearly indicates that the Synodal Path is the only way forward. He warns us in advance that he feels involved and reinforced in a transformation of the Church to be carried out, on which he will reflect with the support of the highest authority in the Church.