In a letter, Francis writes that he shares the cardinal's views on the Church’s attitude towards abuses, but today “We are asked to reform, which — in this case — does not consist in words but in attitudes that have the courage to face the crisis, to assume reality whatever the consequences may be.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis released a letter today in which he rejects the resignation of Cardinal Reinhard Marx as Archbishop of Munich and Freising.
Cardinal Marx, who is a member of the Council of Cardinals and Coordinator of the Council for the Economy, in a letter dated 21 May resigned in connection with the attitude of the Church towards the abuse scandal in Germany.
In his own letter, the pontiff writes that “the whole Church is in crisis because of the abuse issue”, noting that “the Church today cannot take a step forward without addressing this crisis” because “the head-in-the sand politics leads nowhere, and the crisis must be addressed by our Paschal faith. Sociologisms and psychologisms are useless.” Instead, “taking up the crisis, personally and communally, is the only fruitful way, because we do not come out of a crisis alone but in community.”
In the papal letter, published in Spanish and German, the Pope goes on to say: “I agree with you in describing the sad history of sexual abuse, and the way the Church has dealt with it until recently, as a catastrophe. To become aware of this hypocrisy in the way we live our faith is a grace; it is a first step we must take. We must take ownership of the history, both personally and as a community. We cannot remain indifferent to this crime. Taking it up means putting ourselves in crisis.”
It is true, Pope Francis adds, “that historical situations must be interpreted with the hermeneutics of the time in which they occurred, but this does not exempt us from taking ownership of them and taking them up as the history of ‘sin that besets us.’” Therefore, “in my opinion, every bishop of the Church must take it upon himself and ask: what must I do in the face of this catastrophe?”
The Pope notes that the “mea culpa” has been repeated many times “in the face of so many historical errors of the past.” Today, he explains, “We are asked to reform, which – in this case – does not consist in words but in attitudes that have the courage to face the crisis, to assume reality whatever the consequences may be. And every reform begins with oneself. The reform in the Church was made by men and women who were not afraid to enter into crisis and let themselves be reformed by the Lord.”
This “is the only way; otherwise we will be nothing more than ‘ideologues of reform’ who do not put their own flesh on the line,” as Jesus did, “with His life, His story, His flesh on the cross.”
In fact, this “is the way, the way that you yourself, dear brother, have taken in presenting your renunciation,” because “burying the past gets us nowhere. Silence, omissions, giving too much weight to the prestige of institutions only leads to personal and historical failure,” while “we are left with the weight of the ‘skeletons in the closet’, as it were.”
For Francis, it is “urgent to air out this reality of abuse and the way the Church dealt with it, and let the Spirit lead us to the desert of desolation, to the Cross and resurrection. It is the way of the Spirit that we must follow, and the starting point is the humble confession: We have erred, we have sinned.”
“Neither polls nor the power of institutions will save us. We will not be saved by the prestige of our Church, which tends to hide its sins; we will not be saved by the power of money or the opinion of the media (so often we are too dependent on them). We will be saved by opening the door to the only One who can [save us], and by confessing our nakedness: ‘I have sinned,’ ‘we have sinned...’ and by weeping, and stammering, as best we can, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinner’ – the legacy that the first Pope left to the Popes and Bishops of the Church.”
In doing so, the Pope explains, “we will feel that healing shame that opens the doors to the compassion and tenderness of the Lord who is always close to us.”
In ending his letter, Francis says: “I like the way you end your letter: ‘I like being a priest and bishop and hope that I can continue to work for the Church in the future. My service for this Church and the people does not end.”
“And this is my answer, dear brother. Continue as you suggest, but as Archbishop of Munich and Freising. If you are tempted to think that, by confirming your mission and not accepting your renunciation, this Bishop of Rome (your brother who loves you) does not understand you, remember what Peter felt before the Lord when he, in his own way, presented his own renunciation: ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinner,’ and heed the answer: ‘Tend my sheep’.”