You have to be condemned first to be canonized later! Cardinal Marx submits resignation to Francis, citing church’s ‘systemic failure’on abuse!

Cover image: Cardinal Reinhard Marx speaks Jan. 30, 2020, during a news conference in Frankfurt. (CNS photo/Harald Oppitz, KNA)



4th June 2021

Joshua J. McElwee | National Catholic Reporter

by Joshua J. McElwee


Cardinal MARX of Munich and the Church in Germany has been in the forefront of Church reform always! Conversely Church in India with a large battalion of bishops (over 200) of three Rites: Latin, Syro, Malankara led by the Syromalabar church, has been the back seaters always,especially in recent times, bringing Indian Church reputation to ZERO!!


On a global level, just think of  Protestant revolution, Martin Luther, other revolutionary thinker till recently to Hans Kung of “Infallible” fame/blame? And never ever forget the Catholic Maxim: “You have to be condemned first  to be canonized later! If not Catholic, in what limbo has it to be placed? So those who are condemned now, take heart!


Clergy Sex in India

On the question of Clergy Sex abuse of minors, women, Nuns, and widows, the Indian Church steal the first place among the Bishops’ Conferences in the whole world! Ever since Francis Papa made his historic visit two years ago to Chile, a small country with around 35 bishops, where all had to resign admitting complicity with clergy sex abuse, CCV has been pleading and writing for a more urgent Papal visit to India to do a temple cleansing of clergy-sex abuse in this country.


But who cares to the barkings of stray dogs? The caravan called the Indian Church hierarchy has to continue and still continues its triumphal majestic march. There is no vertical or horizontal dialogue in the Indian Church! We hardly receive any response from Indian hierarchy although CCV sends its regular postings to all bishops in India starting from Sister Abhaya case some 25 years ago.  On 23 December 2020, Special CBI Judge K Sanal Kumar awarded double life sentence to Father Thomas Kottoor (71) and ordered him to pay a fine of Rs 6.5 lakh. Sister Sephy (57) was sentenced to life and ordered to pay a fine of Rs 5.5 lakh. They were found guilty of the murder of Sister Abhaya (19), whose body was found inside a well at a convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992.


Why not buy  name with Money?

Why  not when the Syro-Church is flush with money to fight court cases any number of years,  stinking-revolting  sex life of highly placed Reverend Clergy, His Excellencies, His Lordship Bishops or Eminences to make the mall snow white, heavenly looking, with high reputation and matchless saintly grace and fragrance? Why many corruption cases even in land purchases to build a fancy Medical college for Ernakulam, are still fought to prove they are fabricated!  To do anything worthwhile, it takes time, they argue. So let the court cases go on! So think some church men.


To come back to a few high profile Clergy-sex scandals, there was the the notorious Kadappa Bishop’s case we exposed – he resigned and now lives with his wife and 19-year old son. After that there was the cloud burst of Bp. Franko Mulakkal of Jalandhar. The court case is still going on in Kerala. Some Kerala bishops have come forward to compare him to Jesus crucified. Then there was the Ernakulam mastermind priest Robin Vadakkumchery who impregnated a minor, tried to put the blame on her father and tried to escape to Canada, but was caught and is still in custody now.


Clergy sex cases abound in India

It will take pages even to name names of Sisters found dead in wells or water tanks convents. The latest frontline flash in many south Indian papers was that of Mysore bishop K.A. William, finally being investigated by a reportedly honest retired Justice Michael Francis Saldanha, a former judge in the high courts of Bombay and Karnataka. In March 2021, the Vatican has ordered an enquiry. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal is heading the investigation team. (Source: Ucanews 01 March 2021).


The Mysore bishop’s case is epochal as it involves alleged murder of honest priests of diocese who reported and cover ups by the Bishops who is alleged to have fathered two children and embezzling church funds (Source: Ucanews 01 March 2021). Those interested to see photos and read shocking details can go to web pages of CCV, because to SEE ALONE is to believe!


Wish Victory to both!

This being the case in India, don’t be surprised in the least but edified sky high, that there are still alive in the Church in Germany at least shining luminaries, like Paul countering Peter in the Acts  —  here Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich countering Francis the successor of Peter! Francis needs such support to  steady and steer his bark through stormy sea, this day and age!


The report below is from National Catholic Reporter Kansas city which I visited in 1950s. The whole burden of Cardinal Marx’s letter to Pope seems to be: There is no use preaching platitudes. Just as the Word was made flesh, one should Walk the Talk crushing barriers that stand in the way! When two cowards meet, one who strikes first wins. But when two action-oriented persons Marx & Francis meet, we are put in a dilemma! So we wish VICTORY  to both.  james kottoor (in Chicago) editor ccv.


ROME — German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, one of Pope Francis' closest advisors, has asked the pontiff to allow him to resign as the leader of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising as a sign of responsibility for the "systemic failure" of Catholic Church leaders over decades in responding to clergy sexual abuse.


In a shocking letter to Francis, which Marx released to journalists June 4, the cardinal says he wants to "share the responsibility" for the way priests and bishops mishandled abuse cases. He also admits he feels "personally guilty" for trying to protect the reputation of the church when dealing with victims.


"To assume responsibility, it is … not enough in my opinion to react only and exclusively if the files provide proof of the mistakes and failures of individuals," writes Marx in the letter, dated May 21. "We as bishops have to make clear that we also represent the institution of the Church as a whole."


In resigning, states the cardinal, "I may be able to send a personal signal for a new beginning, for a new awakening of the Church, not only in Germany."


"I would like to show that not the ministry is in the foreground but the mission of the Gospel," Marx tells Francis. "I therefore strongly request you to accept this resignation."


Marx has led his archdiocese since 2007. He also serves as one of only seven members of Francis' advisory Council of Cardinals and as the coordinator of the Vatican's Council for the Economy, which supervises the financial activities of both the Vatican city-state and the offices of the Holy See.


The cardinal is 67-years-old, eight years shy of the traditional retirement age of 75 for bishops. His decision to resign over the actions of the church as a whole on clergy abuse, and not because of any known investigation into his personal actions, appears without precedent. 


The Vatican did not immediately respond to Marx's release of his letter to Francis. The June 4 daily news bulletin did not announce whether the pope had chosen to accept the resignation.


In a personal declaration to journalists sent alongside the copy of Marx's letter to Francis, the cardinal said the pope had authorized him to release his letter and told him to "keep performing my service as bishop until [Francis’] decision is made."


As in many countries across the world, Germany's Catholic Church has been rocked by reports of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up by bishops. A 2018 report documented nearly 3,700 cases of alleged abuse over a 68-year period Germany.


The public outcry from the report partially inspired the launch of the German church's "Synodal Path" initiative, a series of gatherings discussing contemporary issues and the future of Catholicism in the country.  


The path has met with criticism from some more conservative church voices, who say it is being too progressive on issues such as sexuality and women's leadership.


Marx, who led the German bishops' conference from 2012-20, has been one of the key organizers of the synodal program. In 2019, he strongly defended the program from criticism by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. Ouellet had said some of the topics up for discussion in Germany would impact the entire global church.


Although Germany has eight Catholic cardinals, Marx is one of only two who are not retired. The other, Cardinal Rainer Woelki, leads the Archdiocese of Cologne, which is currently the subject of a Vatican investigation over its handling of abuse claims.


Woelki has previously said he will not resign over past handling of abuse cases.


"To simply take the moral responsibility with me and to go to protect the reputation of the office of bishop and of the church — I think that's too easy," the cardinal said March 23. "Such a resignation would only be a short-lived symbol."


In his letter to Francis, Marx says "it is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades."


"It is also not right to simply link these problems largely on past times and former Church officials, thereby 'burying' what happened," the cardinal states.


"I feel that through remaining silent, neglecting to act and over-focusing on the reputation of the Church I have made myself personally guilty and responsible," he says. "Overlooking and disregarding the victims was certainly our greatest fault of the past."


Joshua J. McElwee is NCR's news editor. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.


Note by Isaac Gomes: 

The above report was published in yesterday 5th June 2021.  There have been several interesting comments.  These are  reproduced below:

George Neduparambil

Resignation does not solve anything. It simply is a pause until next case gets revealed. Catholic Church is long overdue for a total makeover. 


Fr Francis Sunil Rosario

It’s most shocking to hear of Cardinal Marx’s resignation to Pope Francis. He played an important role in Church leadership nearly a decade now. He spearheaded the drive in 2012 to set up the centre for Child Protection (CCP) in conjunction with the Pontifical Gregorian university. He was the major influence behind establishing the Pontifical Commission of Minors. He had been most determined Church leader in facing the crisis head on towards Church reform. For him it was his experience of Church on ‘dead end’. His expectations of Church leadership is to make this a turning point and to draw out “Synodal path”. His genuine voicing of the concern “I feel that through remaining silent and neglecting to act and over-focusing on the reputation of the church, I have made myself personally guilty and responsible”. He feels the pinch of institutional and systemic failure. He has set before the Church leadership a true model. He has taken upon himself the blame for administrative mistakes. A great gesture on his part to set a tone for the Church hierarchy across the globe and particularly for Indian hierarchy. He was one of the prominent members of the Council of Cardinals, coordinator of the Economy Chairman of German Bishops' Conference. He was deeply involved with Holy Father Pope Francis in the project for the Reform of Roman Curia. Let’s pray earnestly that Jesus help our Church leadership. It’s our time for introspection and discernment .


M.L. Satyan

The resignation of Cardinal Reinhard Marx is a welcome gesture and it is greatly appreciated. His resignation sends out a strong message to other authorities of the Catholic Church in different countries.

Message to the erring Cardinals, Arch/bishops, priests and nuns in India:

OWN YOUR RESPONSIBILITY for the rampant clerical sexual abuses, caste-based politics and various types of corruptions within the church/congregation/institutions and STEP DOWN.

PURIFICATION of the church is the need of the hour.



Such humility is rarely to be found in our Indian prelates.


Isaac Gomes

Chhotebhai has hit the nail on the head. The Indian Church Hierarchy particularly infested with the likes of Bishops (an aberration) Franco Mulakkal and K.A. William will never make such admissions as Cardinal Marx has done. They believe until and unless one is proven guilty, one is innocent. The only way to bring them to book is to drag these priests and bishops to a court of law. Sadly even our courts are influenced by white cassocks / red robes, as the snail’s pace of Mulakkal’s on-going (is it on? No one knows) case has shown. While the culprits rule the roost, the victims continue to suffer in silence. One root cause why the Indian Church Hierarchy look the other way, is these corrupt bishops bring in a lot of money (Profit Centres) to its coffer. CBCI has a hand in this systemic corruption as it too gets a share of this booty. Indeed the Indian Church too has reached a “Dead End” as Cardinal Marx has mentioned of the Church of Germany.

Several such corruptions in the Archdiocese of Calcutta have gone unreported to the Vatican. One such classic case is a video, purportedly released by the Director of the Social Service arm of the Archdiocese of Calcutta,  which is doing rounds in the social media. The video shows the Director making a passionate speech highlighting the activities of his Organisation during the Pandemic. One of the activities is Prevention of Trafficking in Bengal. He makes a fervent appeal to the public to donate generously to Manos Unidas (a Spanish Agency which has been sponsoring the social service organisation of Calcutta in Anti-trafficking programme). The question is how can the Director ask Indian citizens to donate to Manos Unidas which is a Spanish Agency? The Name of the agency, appears in the Annual Reports (2017-18 & 2018-19) of this Kolkata-based Organisation. The Archbishop is Chairman. Interestingly, the Annual Reports (100+ pages) published on the Associations’s website do not show the Balance Sheet, Income & Expenses Account and Receipt & Payments Account.

Coming back to Cardinal Marx’s bemoaning “Systemic Failure”, this failure does not happen on its own. It is the men/women in the system who make it happen and who can cleanse it too, as Jesus did with a whip in his hand.

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1 Response

  1. Francis S Rosario says:


    A systemic change started over sexual abuse by the clergy in Ireland since early 90s. Down the decades there were overflows of abuse by clergy and religious. For European, Irish, UK, Australia and US churches it was the time of awakening. In these countries policies made to safeguard children and most vulnerable no one even dare to touch or look even a child or vulnerable youth and women. In India such policies are still to be promulgated. Indian hierarchy is free from such western based policies to safeguard the interest of victims caused by Church personnel and many dioceses thrive on cover ups.  Many films appeared in cinema wide screens in recent times. Significant films produced on the issue of Sexual abuse by clergy and religious gave wide attention in Europe UK, Ireland, Australia and America. Those interested May watch those movies as below: By the grace of God (2019), Spotlight (2016), The Club (2015), Verfehlung (2015), Philomena (2013), 'Bad Education' (2004), The Magdalene Sisters' (2002), 'Primal Fear' (1996), The Priest (1994).  The film Spotlight won the Oscar award for best movie that year.  It's high time that Indian hierarchy wakes up seeing those hardcore documented evidences. The victims pushed into the wells and private cemeteries to hide and bury evidences are galore. Can we own this responsibility like Cardinal Marx that as an institution as a leader of the Church we are guilty and responsible? Let's face the Truth. Then only Church will be free. 

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