Pope Francis rejected the offer of resignation from the Archbishop of Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx on Thursday, who had told the pope he would step down amid the sexual abuse crisis.
Marx has not been accused of sexual abuse himself, but called it a matter of sharing responsibility.
The Catholic Church in Germany has been shaken by a barrage of allegations that members of the clergy have carried out wide-ranging abuse against minors for years.
The pope said that it was up to every bishop, not just Marx, to take responsibility for the catastrophe of the abuse crisis.
”Continue as you propose (in your pastoral work) but as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, the pope wrote to Marx, referring to the position he was offering to vacate.
While the pope refused to accept Marx's resignation, he agreed that it was necessary to introduce a reform that doesn't consist in words but attitudes that have the courage of putting oneself in crisis, of assuming reality regardless of the consequences.''
The entire Church is in crisis because of the abuse issue and the Church cannot proceed without tackling this crisis. The policy of burying the head in the sand leads nowhere, Pope Francis wrote.
Christian Weisner, spokesperson for the Catholic reform movement We Are Church, called the pope's response a sign of fraternal reinforcement, adding that it showed that even more than a change in personnel, a structural, mental and spiritual change is needed.
The 67-year-old German cardinal published his letter of resignation, dated May 21. In his letter, he said that investigations over the past 10 years have shown the institutional and systemic failure within the Catholic Church.
He also complained that some in the church do not want to acknowledge this element of co-responsibility and thus also complicity of the institution and were thus opposed to necessary reform.
A study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference under Marx's presidency and released in 2018 showed that 1,670 clergymen had committed a type of sexual attack against 3,677 minors, mostly boys, from 1946 through 2014.