Munich cardinal apologizes to abuse victims – again

dpa international [Berlin, Germany]

January 17, 2023

A year after a report detailing widespread abuse in the region’s Catholic churches, Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx apologized again on Tuesday to those affected.

“For the suffering associated with this, I will always be responsible and therefore I apologize again,” the archbishop of Munich and Freising said on Tuesday. His archdiocese covers the capital of the southern German state of Bavaria and surrounding area.

“I cannot undo what has happened, but I can act differently now and in the future. And that’s what I’m doing.”

He called the church’s “greatest shortcoming” the fact that it initially gave little consideration to the victims. Not only did the church have to admit this, but he did too.

“I have to admit that as archbishop in a self-critical way.”

Even a year after the report, he said, the cases were still shocking.

“The horror has remained,” Marx said at a press conference. “Abuse is and remains a catastrophe.”

The expert report, commissioned by the diocese, caused a worldwide stir when it was presented in January 2022. The Munich-based law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl researched and wrote the report.

The study said there were at least 497 victims and 235 alleged perpetrators – and a far larger unknown field.

Former archbishops Friedrich Wetter and Joseph Ratzinger, who became pope Benedict XVI, were personally accused of misconduct in several cases in the report – as was Cardinal Marx. Ratzinger died on December 31.

On Tuesday Marx called on people to report indications of possible abuse. The diocese said it had received 57 reports last year since the findings were made public, including on borderline violations that did not reach the level of sexual abuse and new information relating to previously reported cases of abuse.

Ahead of Tuesday’s press conference, the chairperson of the diocese’s victim advisory board, Richard Kick, called for the establishment of a professional body to look at the issue of abuse in institutions throughout Bavaria.

He said the archdiocese had already done “a whole lot” to address the issue.

“We see – after an initial, suspicious eye was cast – a viable cooperation with the diocese’s administration.”

However, he still considers the cases that the expert report has brought up to be the tip of the iceberg.

“We demand another expert opinion for the institutions that are not diocesan, but still church-related,” Kick said. “Nothing is happening there yet. I think that’s where most of the cases were: in the religious orders, in the children’s homes, among other places.”

“We also need the state to intervene now,” he added, noting that it had a duty when it comes to child and youth institutions in particular.

© Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH