Marx gives up chairmanship of bishops' conference – bishops regret

Marx gives up chairmanship of bishops' conference - bishops regret

Cardinal Reinhard Marx is not available for a second term at the helm of the German Bishops' Conference. Church representatives and politicians noted his announcement with regret and surprise.

"My reflection is that at the end of a possible second term I would be 72 years old, and then the end of my task as archbishop of Munich and Freising will also be near," a letter from Marx to his confreres reads. "I think it should be the turn of the younger generation to take over."

Bamberg Archbishop Ludwig Schick said, "He has given his best."Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr of Erfurt said Marx had represented the bishops' conference very well in public "in anything but easy times". The bishops of Speyer and Munster, Karl-Heinz Wiesemann and Felix Genn, expressed similar views. The future bishop of Augsburg, Bertram Meier, expressed understanding for Marx's move, saying, "Serving unity within the bishops' conference was certainly also energy-sapping."

Marx's withdrawal a loss for reform dialogue

Bishop Helmut Dieser of Aachen sees Cardinal Reinhard Marx's withdrawal as chairman of the German Bishops' Conference as a loss for the reform dialogue that has begun in the Catholic Church in Germany. "The Synodal Way will still miss the constructive work of Cardinal Marx in the presidium," the latter announced on Wednesday. "I am comforted by the fact that he will continue to be actively involved in the bishops' conference and in the Synodal Way."

The latter emphasized Marx's drive. "His personal capacity for suffering and straightforwardness have helped to ensure that the German bishops have been able to exercise their teaching office with recognizable consistency in a collegial manner in the great challenges of our time," he said.

Example of renunciation of power

Limburg Bishop Georg Batzing sees the withdrawal as an example of relinquishing power. Trier Bishop Stephan Ackermann said Marx had strengthened ties between the church in Germany and the Vatican at the level of the universal church and in the pope's advisory body. Osnabruck Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, vice chairman of the bishops' conference, rules out his succession to the post.

The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) received Marx's decision "with great regret and the utmost respect". Marx had "done a great job in regaining the trust and credibility of the Catholic Church," said ZdK President Thomas Sternberg.

Committed reformer

The Bishops' Conference and the ZdK had recently jointly initiated the Synodal Way on the Future of Church Life in Germany. This dialogue must continue, said the group "We are Church," which thanked Marx for "helping to launch this reform process, which is urgently needed in light of the slow pace of coming to terms with sexualized violence".

The chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, praised Marx's commitment to ecumenism. He said that the bond between the Protestant and Catholic churches had been particularly strong during the preparations for and implementation of the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Church in Germany. Reformation commemoration 2017 deepened.

Strong and clear voice of the Catholic Church

The president of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, said Marx had always "shown a clear edge against anti-Semitism and accepted the responsibility of the Catholic Church for the anti-Judaism preached over centuries".

The Union's spokesman on religious policy, Hermann Grohe (CDU), called Marx "a strong voice for the Catholic Church in Germany". Green Party politician Konstantin von Notz stressed that Marx had provided important impetus for "humane treatment of refugees determined by charity". The spokesman for religious policy of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Lars Castellucci, told the CBA that Marx had taken on the office "in times that were not exactly easy for the church and had set a lot in motion".

Term of office remains at six years

The bishops' conference serves to promote common tasks, provide advice and coordinate work. It sets guidelines and maintains links with other bishops' conferences. The term of office of the chairman remains at six years. New elections are scheduled in Mainz at the spring plenary assembly of bishops in early March.

Marx said that his decision not to run again then had been made for some time. "Of course, I will continue to actively participate in the Bishops' Conference and will be particularly committed to the Synodal Way, which from my point of view has started well."At the same time, he now wants to be more present in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising, where a "comprehensive strategy process" is to be started.

Marx has been archbishop of Munich and Freising since 2008; before that, he was bishop of Trier since 2002. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI elevated him. (2005-2013) to Cardinal. From 2012 to 2018, Marx was also president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE). He also heads the Economic Council at the Vatican and is a member of the Council of Cardinals, which advises Pope Francis on reforming the Roman Curia.

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