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Pope rejects resignation of German cardinal, calls for reforms

ROME. Pope Francis on Thursday rejected the resignation presented by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx over a scandal of sexual abuse in the Church, although he said that a reform process must begin and that all bishops must take responsibility for the “catastrophe” of the crisis.

Francis wrote a letter to Marx in response to the prelate’s unexpected announcement last week that he had tendered his resignation as Archbishop of Munich and Freising over mismanagement of abuse cases in the Church.

The pontiff rejected the resignation and told Marx in the letter that he must continue in his post as archbishop.

The pope added that instead there should be a reform process “that does not consist of words, but of attitudes that have the courage to put themselves in crisis, or to assume reality regardless of the consequences.”

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The letter, originally written in Spanish and with an informal and fraternal tone, seemed to give Marx papal backing to move forward with the controversial reform of the German church that began in response to the abuse crisis and reports of mismanagement by the German hierarchy on this issue for decades.

The reform process, called the “synodal path” has provoked fierce resistance inside and outside of Germany, especially from conservatives who are opposed to opening any kind of debate on issues such as the celibacy of priests, the role of women in the Church and homosexuality .

Resistance also comes from the Vatican and from bishops outside of Germany, including Americans, who have broken with ecclesiastical protocol by writing essays critical of the German reform process.

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