Germany’s top Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, has offered his resignation to the Pope over the Church’s child sexual abuse scandals.
“It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades,” he said in a letter to Pope Francis.
He is the Archbishop of Munich. The Pope is still considering his offer.
Pope Francis has sent two bishops to Cologne to investigate abuse cases.
In 2018, a study commissioned by the Church itself found that more than 3,600 children in Germany had been sexually assaulted by Roman Catholic priests between 1946 and 2014.
Only 38% of the alleged perpetrators were prosecuted, with most facing only minor disciplinary procedures. About one in six cases involved rape. Most of the victims were boys, and more than half were aged 13 or younger.
In his letter, Cardinal Marx said investigations in recent years had revealed “a lot of personal failure and administrative mistakes” but also “institutional or systemic failure” in relation to child sex abuse.
The statement in German on the Munich archbishop’s website says his letter was dated 21 May. The Pope has asked him to remain in post pending a decision on his resignation offer.