Reinhard Marx

Reinhard Marx (born 21 September 1953) is a German cardinal of the Catholic Church. He serves as the Archbishop of Munich and Freising. Pope Benedict XVI elevated Marx to the cardinalate in a consistory in 2010.

His Eminence

Reinhard Marx
Cardinal, Archbishop of Munich and Freising
Kardinal Reinhard Marx.jpg
Marx in 2010
ArchdioceseMunich and Freising
Appointed30 November 2007
Installed2 February 2008
PredecessorFriedrich Wetter
Other postsCardinal-Priest of S. Corbiniano
President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community
Coordinator of Council for the Economy
Member of the Council of Cardinals
Ordination2 June 1979
by Johannes Joachim Degenhardt
Consecration21 September 1996
by Johannes Joachim Degenhardt
Created cardinal20 November 2010
by Benedict XVI
Personal details
Birth nameReinhard Marx
Born (1953-09-21) 21 September 1953 (age 67)
Geseke, Germany
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post
MottoUbi Spiritus Domini Ibi Libertas
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom
Coat of armsReinhard Marx's coat of arms


Born in Geseke, North Rhine-Westphalia, Cardinal Marx was ordained to the priesthood, for the Archdiocese of Paderborn, by Archbishop Johannes Joachim Degenhardt on 2 June 1979. He obtained a doctorate in theology from the University of Bochum in 1989.[1]

On 23 July 1996, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn and Titular Bishop of Petina by Pope John Paul II. Marx was consecrated on 21 September (his forty-third birthday) by Archbishop Degenhardt, with Bishops Hans Drewes and Paul Consbruch serving as co-consecrators.

On 20 December 2001 he was named Bishop of Trier (the oldest diocese in Germany), succeeding Hermann Josef Spital nearly a year after the latter's retirement. Marx is considered to be a "social scientist ... and whiz with the media".[2] Moreover, in 2003, he suspended a theologian for extending to Protestants an invitation to the Eucharist.[3]

Styles of
Reinhard Marx
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeMunich and Freising

On 30 November 2007 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Reinhard Marx as Metropolitan Archbishop of Munich and Freising, a position that Benedict himself held from 1977 to 1981. Rumours surrounding this were circulated before Pope Benedict's formal announcement, but Marx responded to these by saying, "The Pope names bishops, not the press."[3] On 2 February 2008, Marx was installed as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in the Munich Frauenkirche. He became first-ever Cardinal-Priest of San Corbiniano on 20 November 2010.[4] Cardinal Marx's title is that of Saint Corbinian, who was the first bishop of Freising and of whom Cardinal Marx is the apostolic successor.

Cardinal Marx currently serves as head of the committee for social issues at the German Bishops' Conference. In addition to his duties as archbishop of Munich, on 11 December 2010 Cardinal Marx was named by Pope Benedict as a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education for a five-year renewable term.[5] On 29 December 2010 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

On 7 March 2012, he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.[6]

On 22 March 2012, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community elected him its president.

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.

On 13 April 2013 he was appointed to a Council of Cardinal Advisers, a group established by Pope Francis, exactly a month after his election, to advise him and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus.[7]

On the question whether the Church should allow remarried divorcees to Communion, it came to disagreements with Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the head of the Congregation of the Faith at the Vatican, in November 2013. Cardinal Marx called for a wide debate on the treatment of the Catholic Church with divorced and remarried.

When the Vatican suspended Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst in 2013 over his alleged lavish spending, Cardinal Reinhard Marx was also criticized as he spent around $11 million renovating the archbishop's residence and another $13 million for a guesthouse in Rome.[8]

On 19 February 2014 he was confirmed as a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches until the end of his current five-year term.[9]

On 12 March 2014 Cardinal Marx was also elected chairman of the German Bishops' Conference as successor of Robert Zollitsch. He was elected in Münster by the German bishops and auxiliary bishops only in the fifth round of voting in which a simple majority is sufficient. He served in this capacity until his replacement Georg Bätzing was elected on 3 March 2020.[10]

On 15 October 2020, Pope Francis renewed Marx's term on the Council of Cardinal Advisers.[11]

President of the Bishops' Conference of the European CommunityEdit

He was elected as President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community on 22 March 2012.

After Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, Cardinal Marx issued a statement saying: "This decision of the British voters should of course be respected, even if we, as COMECE, find it extremely regrettable."[12][13] He praised the EU's "project of community and solidarity" but also stated: "We need to 'rethink' Europe in some way. ... we will only be able to build a good future if the nations of Europe are united. It also raises the question on the way to achieve the 'true European humanism' to which Pope Francis has encouraged the Europeans."[12][13]

Despite protests by Catholics in Germany, including the Catholic Workers Movement, Cardinal Marx spoke positively of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. He said: "Given today’s huge social and environmental challenges, I won’t have a good feeling if Europe pulls out of shaping globalization and leaves the issues and actions to others," [14]

Following the Christmas market attack in Berlin in December 2016, Cardinal Marx said "The news from Berlin have deeply shocked me. The violence on the Christmas market is the opposite of what visitors were seeking. My compassion goes to the relatives of the dead and injured. For all of them I will pray."[15]

In April 2017, Cardinal Marx met with Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, and he hailed the great achievements that had been made in Europe in recent history. In a joint statement with Anglican bishop Christopher Hill, Marx said: "In the decades since the founding of the European Union and its predecessor institutions, Europeans have benefitted from historic periods of peace, the expansion of democracy on the continent, and increased freedom to work, travel, and study,' and 'We believe more than ever in the European project and believe that a common path resting on shared values is the best path, ... A united Europe brings about peace in a world where peace cannot be taken for granted."[16]

In May 2017, the leaders of COMECE met in Rome in relation to a high-level congress to take place in Rome on the theme 'Rethinking Europe'. On the occasion, Cardinal Marx stated that putting the human person back at the centre of European public policy was, along with dying to oneself, the church's message and he further stated, "I see, when I meet politicians and “other” people, that they are open to discuss. ...We cannot [do] politics, we are not politicians ... but we can enable the way.”[17]

On December 2nd 2018, Marx attended the "Pulse of Europe" meeting in Munich and made statements in favour of greater European unity. He said "Nationalism means war. Germany first? That is egotism and won’t get us any further" and "The Romanian poor and the Italian unemployed are all our problem". He also said he did not understand why no one was speaking of United States of Europe any longer.[18]

Contribution to global Synod of BishopsEdit

Marx participated in the Synod of Bishops on the Family in 2014 and 2015. The interim working document, known as the relatio post disceptationem, summarized the first week of discussions, calling on the church to listen more and to apply mercy more widely.[19] In 2014, addressing a question raised on the family, he argued that church doctrine can change over time, and "doesn't depend on the spirit of time but can develop over time. ...Saying that the doctrine will never change is a restrictive view of things," Marx later clarified at a Vatican press conference: "The core of the Catholic Church remains the Gospel, but have we discovered everything? This is what I doubt."[19]

Marx also indicated support for Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal to give the sacrament of Holy Communion in certain circumstances to people who had divorced and remarried. He has stated his position that no sacramental second marriage was possible within Catholic teaching, but he wanted it to be possible that people whose marriages had failed could still be accepted within the church.[20]

While previously suggesting that the German church might go in a different direction than the Synod, Marx insisted at the 2015 Synod that he would abide by whatever the Pope decided. He said "the Church is the only institution in the world that can reach unanimous agreement. Thank God we have the pope. We bishops do not have to decide. Church unity is not in danger. And once the pope has decided, we will abide by his decision."[21]

When several cardinals led by Cardinal Raymond Burke published a set of questions asking for clarifications regarding certain aspects of Amoris Laetitia, Marx opposed it and claimed that the exhortation was not ambiguous as some claimed, and that it did in fact allow for people to receive the Eucharist in a second marriage under certain circumstances. Cardinal Burke and others who had published these questions believed that under no circumstances could communion be given to someone who was in a second marriage.[22]

In February 2017, Marx, when speaking of the events surrounding this controversy, stated: '“We have discussions in the church, normal discussions, tensions. It will be forever like this.” Marx also claimed that support for the Pope within the church was substantial.[23]

Coordinator for Council of the EconomyEdit

In 2014, Pope Francis created a new agency for organizing the economic affairs of the Holy See called the 'Secretariat for the Economy'.[24] In coordination with this, the Pope also created a council of bishops and laity who would oversee the secretariat known as the Council for the Economy. Cardinal Marx was named as coordinator of this council.[25]

The Vatican reported a budget deficit of 70 million Euros for the year 2018, which was double the previous year. Cardinal Marx commented on this situation at the time that the deficit could be resolved within a year or two. In October 2019, he said "We have to go forward, otherwise I cannot see how to sign a budget with a structural deficit,” and “But that is a way we can go in several years. That is not a catastrophe." Vatican revenues and finances went into further collapse in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.[26]

In February 2020, cardinal Marx announced he would not have accepted a new six-year mandate as head of the German Bishops' Conference, due to his age of 66.[27] Two months later, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, the head of the Vatican's Dicastery for Finances, and Cardinal Marx sent a letter to Vatican offices to get them to drastically cut costs and revise their budgets for 2020. The contents of the letter called for a reduction of travel throughout the year, a cancellation of all conferences, meeting and ad limina visits, radical limits on consultancy and overtime, as well as to postpone all work to the following year which wasn't absolutely necessary.[28]


Homosexuality, gay rights, and the ChurchEdit

In 2011, Marx was reported as saying that the Catholic Church “has not always adopted the right tone” toward LGBT people. He went on to add that, while he cannot officially bless a union between two people of the same sex, he can (and implicitly will) pray for their relationship if asked.[29]

In 2014, Marx responded in an interview to the issues under consideration at the Synod of Bishops concerning the Church's treatment of people that are gay: "I have the impression that we have a lot of work to do in the theological field, not only related to the question of divorce, but also the theology of marriage. I am astonished that some can say, “Everything is clear” on this topic. Things are not clear. It is not about church doctrine being determined by modern times. It is a question of aggiornamento, to say it in a way that the people can understand, and to always adapt our doctrine to the Gospel, to theology, in order to find in a new way the sense of what Jesus said, the meaning of the tradition of the church and of theology and so on. There is a lot to do".[30] He went on to say, "Take the case of two homosexuals who have been living together for 35 years and taking care of each other, even in the last phases of their lives. How can I say that this has no value?" [31]

At the 2015 Synod in Rome, Marx urged his fellow bishops that, "We must make it clear that we do not only judge people according to their sexual orientation. ...If a same-sex couple are faithful, care for one another and intend to stay together for life God won't say 'All that doesn't interest me, I'm only interested in your sexual orientation.'"[21]

Marx supports legal recognition for same-sex unions arguing that there are positive elements that can be found and supported in same-sex relationships, but is against same-sex marriage. In 2015, in Germany he stated: "Human dignity is not state-made, it’s not made by the constitution, which is why neither the constitution nor the state can pass judgment on it. ...And this also applies to the topic of marriage and the family."[32]

In June 2016, on a visit to Ireland, Cardinal Marx argued that the church and society had harmed gay people in the past and should publicly apologise.[33]

In July 2017, in an interview with the Augsburger Allgemeine in Germany, Marx commented on the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in Germany and said that it was not a concern for the church. He said that church teaching cannot be moulded into the laws of a secular state and he said: "In a secular society, the state must make laws that are valid for everyone". He also lamented that the Catholic church in Germany had not done more in the past to fight against laws that criminalized homosexual activity in Germany.[34]

In February 2018, it was widely reported that Marx said in an interview with German journalists that blessing of same-sex unions is possible in Catholic churches in Germany,[35][36] but later clarified that he had not implied this and was misunderstood, stating that there merely could be "spiritual encouragement."[37] In January 2020 Marx said again, same-sex couples can get blessings.[38]

Abortion and euthanasiaEdit

Marx is an active opponent of abortion in Germany and has also spoken against physician-assisted suicide as well as embryonic stem cell research. On the occasion of the 2015 pro-life march in Germany, he publicly stated: “As Christians we share the conviction that the inviolable dignity of every human being has its origin in God, the Creator of all life.” [39]

However, he has been criticized by some anti-abortion groups for signalling his approval to issue the 'morning-after pill' in German Catholic hospitals, which could potentially destroy a viable embryo.

Church role in the modern worldEdit

In a visit to Ireland in June 2016, Cardinal Marx claimed that Christianity is the 'religion of the future'. He quoted Cardinal Ratzinger's (later Pope Benedict XVI) speech in Paris in 2000, when Ratzinger said that Christianity was not a faith that dealt with 'magic things' but with the real world. Cardinal Marx claimed that Christianity had a role in making the world a better place. He noted that in past times there were occasions when the church was on 'the wrong side' of various issues, but that in the future it must rely on its own social doctrine and Christian anthropology as a source from which to help make a new and better society, which also embraced the marginalized. He also expressed concern over a tendency by some to want to go back to a dream of society where things were 'more cohesive and simpler', and that future debates would be about identity and security rather than freedom.[40]

On the occasion of the death of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in June 2017, Cardinal Marx praised Kohl (who was a practicing Catholic) as an example of Christian witness in the modern world. Marx praised Kohl's work for German reunification, work for democracy and human rights, work for European integration, and his work to create a social market economy in Germany based on church teaching. Marx said of Kohl: "The Church in Germany is grateful for the Christian testimony of Helmut Kohl. Wherever the values of a free society were trampled on in the world, he pledged that these values be respected. He wanted and knew how to show his Christian convictions in Europe. " [41]

In October 2017, Marx along with other bishops and European politicians attended a conference in Rome entitled "Thinking Europe: A Christian Contribution to the Future of the European Project" that was meant to discuss the role of religion in the future of Europe. On the occasion, Marx commented that 20 years prior, many people thought that religion would disappear from society, but that that was not the case. He stated that the great fear for religion was not that it would disappear but rather "it will be instrumentalized for other reasons, for political reasons. That will be perhaps the great fear for the 21st century.” [42]

In 2018, Marx gave an interview in which he discussed Karl Marx. "Without him, there would not be any Catholic social doctrine,” he said. On this issue, Marx was noted to differ from Pope Francis, who shortly before had quoted Benedict XVI in calling Marxism a "totalitarian lie."[43]

On September 1, 2018 the anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, Cardinal Marx visited the Polish city of Gdansk and paid tribute to the Polish Solidarity movement supported by the church that had fought against communism in the 1980s. In an interview on the occasion, he spoke about future of Europe and said that the church was in favour of European unification and against Nationalism. On the occasion, he said, "Faith tells us we belong to a human family. Patriotism is good, but nationalism is not Catholic. I agree with Franz-Josef Strauss, who has always said: Bavaria is our home, Germany is our fatherland, Europe is our future." [44]

In October 2018, Cardinal Marx attended the Synod on Youth in Rome. At the event, as reported by ICN, he said that Pope Francis had decided to use synods as a way of moving the church forward. ICN reported that he said that it was important for the church to accompany young adults at their sensitive age, otherwise the church would be a lost playing field for evangelization. ICN also reported that he also reiterated calls he had made for a new to give women real participation in the church's decision-making process and that the church would be foolish if it did not make use of potential that women have.[45]


Cardinal Marx has consistently criticized European policies towards asylum seekers, claiming that they keep away people who need help. On the occasion of the tragic sinking of a migrant boat near Lampedusa in 2013, he said:

For years, we have followed a policy which has prevented those in need reaching our shores. This is not the kind of Europe we want. To claim asylum is a fundamental human right which we must respect. Refugees and asylum seekers deserve to be treated humanely.[46]

On September 5, 2015, Cardinal Marx along with Lutheran bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, members of the clergy and crowds of Germans enthusiastically welcomed Syrian refugees coming to Germany at the Munich train station.[47]

He has also spoken out against xenophobia and violence done against migrants in Germany. He claimed that Catholics are not allowed to be xenophobic.[48]

In September 2015, he chaired a meeting of COMECE joined by the Conference of European Churches, which had been convened to discuss the Syrian migrant crisis in Europe. Marx made clear that "Those who enter Europe must not be afraid to drown or suffocate. And they must get a fair asylum process. These are minimum standards which must apply throughout Europe."[49]

Following the 2015-2016 New Year's Eve attacks on women in Germany and the discovery that most of the violence was carried out by people from the Middle East or North Africa who entered Germany as refugees, Cardinal Marx condemned the violence: “These new forms of violence and especially the inhumane treatment of women cannot be tolerated” and he demanded that “all the different forces in society must work together to prevent this type of incidents and guarantee safety.”[50]

Marx in 2009

On February 6, 2016, he remarked that Germany cannot take in all of the world's refugees and that there needs to be a reduction in the number coming in. There had already been 1.1 million migrants entering Germany in the past year up to that point, and an unknown number yet to come. He said that in order to help refugees, it needed not only "charity but also reason". At the same time, Marx also criticized the anti-foreigner sentiments growing in Germany that had been spreading in society.[51]

In September 2016, an aide to the head of the Christian Social Union (CSU) party in Germany made negative comments about refugees, claiming it was hard to deport them. Cardinal Marx criticized the remarks and said that politicians should by finding ways to integrate them, rather than get rid of them.[52]

At the 2016 St Michael's reception in Berlin, Cardinal Marx addressed a crowd of 800, including Chancellor Merkel, and praised Germany's policy of welcoming in refugees. He also warned against nationalism and stated: 'Patriotism yes, we love our homeland, but any form of nationalism must be opposed."[53]

In February 2017, Cardinal Marx praised Chancellor Angela Merkel over her policy towards refugees: “In a critical phase of Europe, you have set an important sign of humanity and given an example of Christian love of neighbor in politics,” he said, adding, “she knows that Christians must not simply let the world run its course. We have helped shape it!” Cardinal Marx also criticized populist movements, stating that “a retreat to the national, to the closed is no Christian option.”[54]

In the wake of the German parliamentary elections in September 2017 that saw the far-right AfD party enter the German parliament for the first time, Cardinal Marx spoke out in support of reaffirming Germany's commitment to help migrants and refugees, saying: "For Christians, who'll be present in all parties, topics of fundamental importance will include dealing with foreigners seeking our protection and with our society's poor and disadvantaged. ...In the common struggle for the right path, black-and-white images of hate and exclusion aren't appropriate."[55]

In July 2018, the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) party nearly pushed Angela Merkel's government to the brink of collapse after it demanded that she do more to restrict the number of migrants entering Germany. In response, Marx criticized the CSU for going against Christian values: "A party that has chosen the C in the name has an obligation, in the spirit of Christian social teaching, especially in its attitude towards the poor and the weak".[56]

In July 2020 a Benedictine abbess named Mechthild Thürmer in Bavaria sheltered a migrant at her Abbey who the government wanted to deport. The abbess granted church asylum to the migrant and a Bamberg court threatened her with imprisonment. Cardinal Marx and other Bavarian bishops came out in strong support for the abbess. Cardinal Marx commented: "The bishops see no reason for a court sentence. They fully support the tradition of church asylum, which lays bare the exceptionally inhuman hardship of the EU asylum system".[57]


Cardinal Marx has asserted that climate change and the refugee crisis are the two biggest problems facing Europe. He has repeated Pope Francis' words in asserting the existence of an 'ecological debt' of richer more developed nations to poorer less developed nations. He has said that the Church can learn from the world in 'recognizing the signs of the times'.[58]

Foreign relationsEdit

Cardinal Marx has served as the representative of the church in Germany in other parts of the world.

In 2015, he visited the United States, including the US-Mexican border. He spoke about this experience in 2016, by saying, 'When I visited the U.S.-Mexican border last year and saw the Mexico-United States barrier with its series of walls, I thought to myself that cannot be the future of European borders."[59]

In January 2016, he visited Viet Nam and had a meeting with the chief of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front, a communist party umbrella-organization that has control of all social organizations within Viet Nam. The President of the Front stated that relations between Viet Nam and the Holy See had greatly improved, and that the church in Viet Nam was engaging in many activities that benefited Vietnamese society. Cardinal Marx expressed his hope that the Front would assist in developing Catholicism in Viet Nam and facilitating humanitarian activities among the Catholic community.[60]

During the same visit, Cardinal Marx was refused permission to travel to Vinh diocese, without any stated reason from official sources. It may have been related to the cases of religious persecution that had occurred in Vinh against the clergy and laity of the diocese. Cardinal Marx said that "no political and economic organizations can injure religious freedom".[61]


On Christ the King Sunday 2015, marking the 50th anniversary of the exchange of letters between German and Polish bishops in 1965, German and Polish bishops met at the famous monastery of Jasna Góra in Poland. Cardinal Marx gave the homily at the Mass and the presider was Polish Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki.

They signed a document calling to together build a Europe based on Christianity and that Europe still had not fully recovered from the wounds of its past, and they declared their willingness to do more work for reconciliation. They also noted with grief about the situation in the Ukraine, where its territorial integrity had been breached by separatists backed by Russia. They also praised the work of Polish bishops 50 years ago, who had been the first to reach out to German bishops, even though their nation had been the victim of the war. They also called for Christians to reach out to the refugees from other parts of the world and to protect all human life from conception until natural death.[62]

In September 2016, Cardinal Marx and Lutheran bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm jointly created a document titled 'Healing Memories - Witnessing to Jesus Christ', ahead of the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant reformation, calling for healing of past wounds between Catholics and Protestants. The document read, "A look at history reveals the suffering and wounds that Christians have inflicted on each other. This shocks and shames us. ...We see it as an exceptional moment of our fellowship, after centuries of mutual separation, to mark a Reformation anniversary with such readiness to engage in forgiveness and a new beginning."

They planned a mutual ecumenical meeting at Hildesheim on March 11, 2017 to mark the anniversary. Speaking of this, the two bishops said, "In it we will confess our guilt before God on behalf of our churches, asking God and each other for forgiveness and committing ourselves before God to continue to deepen our togetherness."[63]

Marx said, in speaking of Luther:"We as Catholics can now clearly say that Luther never wanted to create a new Church."[64]

In February 2017, Marx attended an ecumenical meeting of Catholics and Lutherans in Stuttgart to release revised versions of German translations of the Catholic and Lutheran bibles. At the event, Marx said, "I am very pleased that we are placing God's word in our midst in such an ecumenically meaningful year as 2017, in which we together recall the events of the Reformation 500 years ago and celebrate them today as a celebration of Christ, to place God's word in our midst."[65]

In August 2020, Cardinal Marx along with Lutheran Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm were named as the recipients of the 2020 Augsburg Peace Prize for their "unconditional will to live together in peace". Marx was praised for his commitment to ecumenical dialogue and cooperation between the two churches that had long been divided for the past 500 years. Marx said on the occasion: "Christianity in Germany and Europe will only have a future if we strongly work together and stay together ecumenically. That is important, and that is where I see the prize as encouragement".[66]

Cardinal Marx has been an advocate in favour of intercommunion between churches. The Catholic church has generally forbidden protestants to take communion in Catholic churches since the 16th century, however, in more recent times both protestant and Catholic bishops in Germany have been discussing plans for allowing members of the other churches to be allowed to receive communion in their own church. A proposal for 'reciprocal Eucharistic hospitality' was made jointly by representatives from both the Catholic and Protestant churches of Germany in 2019. However, in September 2020, the proposal was criticized as containing doctrinal errors by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. Cardinal Marx spoke in favour of the proposal by saying that plans were "already far advanced" and that "the ball in the Vatican's court". He also said of the idea: I would like to see Christians celebrate the eucharist together, without becoming a unified Church. Ecumenism only works if we try to understand the position of others and sometimes accept differences.” [67]

Church reformEdit

Cardinal Marx has taught that Catholic doctrine remains the same, but the church's understanding of it changes over time. He has claimed that theology and doctrine are not the same, and that theology can change, but doctrine can't. He has said that "truth does not change but we gain greater understanding of the truth as we grow... We don't own the truth, the truth owns us, since it is a person we encounter, not something we possess."[68]

While at the 2015 Synod of the family, he contrasted Pope Pius XI's encyclical Casti connubii and Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation 'Familiaris Consortio' as evidence of the church's living tradition.[68]

In relation to the 2001 Congregation for Divine Worship's document 'Liturgiam Authenticam', which called for literal translations of the Latin into the vernacular, Marx commented that it was too 'narrow in view' and a 'dead end'.[69]

In June 2017, Cardinal Marx called for the global church to admit more women into top leadership positions. He said "And that is why I want to emphasize that positions of responsibility and executive positions in the Church that are open to lay people must be shared by both men and women.”[70]

In 2018, Marx and a majority of other German bishops supported a proposal to allow Protestant spouses of German Catholics to receive the Eucharist at Mass. However, a minority of German bishops opposed this proposal and appealed to the Vatican for clarification of the issue. Archbishop Luis Ladaria, representing Pope Francis, issued a statement in June 2018 that temporarily rejected the German proposal on several grounds, including that it was an issue for the wider church as a whole to consider.[71]

In September 2019, Cardinal Marx gave his support to the idea of having married priests within certain regions and under certain conditions.[72]

In July 2020, the Vatican's Congregation of the Clergy issued a document on parish reform entitled: "The pastoral conversion of the parish community at the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church". Many German bishops criticized this document, including Marx. Marx criticized the way that the document was issued from the Vatican without consultation at the local level. In Munich Cathedral, on July 24, he said: "It is a little strange that a document arrives from Rome without ever having been discussed with us. Is this the coexistence of the universal Church with the particular Church that they have desired? Not really!". He then added: "It is not for one person to proclaim something and for others to simply follow, but to listen to each other, to learn together, to absorb the experiences of the local Church—which is missing from the document that has been released these days. As if in Germany we had never thought of missionary parishes!". However, Marx welcomed Pope Francis' drive for a more synodal church.[73]

Persecution of ChristiansEdit

In April 2017, during the Good Friday service held in Munich, Cardinal Marx lamented the persecution of Christians that occurred in the world, especially in nations that had been shaped by Islam: "there can be no peace between religions,” he said, unless “all human beings are permitted to live their faith and be respected in it.” [74]

Violence and religionEdit

In June 2017, during an interview Marx claimed that religious leaders needed to be on guard to make sure that they did not provide a kind of pious framework from which religious extremists could perform violence. He indicated that both Catholics and Muslims needed to think about this. He said, "Religions simply must ask themselves—and permit themselves to be asked—whether by the way they are being interpreted or lived, they are contributing toward justifying or even fueling conflicts" [75]

Democracy and Human RightsEdit

In August 2020, Cardinal Marx spoke out in favour of the pro-democracy protestors in Belarus. On the feast of the Assumption, he preached in Munich Cathedral: "Everywhere where people rise up and defend human dignity, the dignity of life and the dignity of freedom, one becomes conscious of Easter and that includes Belarus. Easter means rising up against hatred, violence and injustice" [76]

In September 2020, Cardinal Marx spoke out against an attempt in the Danish parliament to ban non-medical circumcision. He said, "The Catholic Church in the European Union considers any attempt on the fundamental right to freedom of religion as unacceptable. The criminalization of circumcision is a very grave measure that raises deep concern" [77]


During the 2015 Synod on the family, Marx faced opposition from other bishops for supporting Cardinal Kasper's proposal that the rules be relaxed to allow divorced and remarried couples to receive Holy Communion. Divisions were particularly acute between the group of bishops from Germany (notably Marx), and conservatives such as Cardinal George Pell of Sydney. Marx accused Pell of trying to foster division by making it seem as if there were two camps within the Church, one around Pope Benedict XVI and the other around Cardinal Kasper. A spokesman for Pell welcomed the suggestion that Marx saw no differences between the two groups.[78]

Cardinal Marx was indirectly criticized by retired Pope Benedict in a 2016 book of interviews with him. The occasion was related to how, shortly before Benedict's resignation in 2013, Marx had criticized him by saying he had turned the Roman curia into his own court. In response to this, Benedict said "I have always lived simply, always, ever since my childhood." The retired Pope's personal secretary Georg Gänswein also stated "One should be careful of making statements or valuations of a situation that one does not know well."[79]

In August 2020, Cardinal Marx generated controversy when a photo of him posing in front of a statue of Karl Marx was featured on the facebook page of the German bishops' conference.[80][81]

Sex abuseEdit

German media reported that an unidentified priest in the diocese of Trier had allegedly sexually abused minors, and that this priest was not removed by Cardinal Marx when he was bishop of Trier, even though he had been made aware of the case. Cardinal Marx's spokesperson claimed that Marx had acted with the relevant guidelines in place at the time. It was further claimed by the media that the priest continued to serve in Trier until 2015 and his abuse also allegedly continued up until that point. The rules governing these cases were reformed in 2010 and 2013, and the spokesperson claimed that had the new rules been in place at the time, the church would have acted differently.[82]

Cardinal Marx opened a meeting of bishops in Fulda in late September 2018 to discuss a study concerning widespread sexual abuse within the German church. The study had been commissioned by the German bishops' conference and given to the press in September 2018, and it showed widespread sexual abuse had occurred in the German church from 1946 to 2014, with almost 4,000 victims abused. On the occasion, Marx said the report "makes it clear to us that the Catholic Church has by no means overcome the issue of dealing with the sexual abuse of minors."[83] "I feel we have reached a turning point about the issues such as prevention and the treatment of victims, but also about how the Church will deal with its own future" and "We must do more: listen, understand and take appropriate measures." [84]

In February 2019 Marx spoke at a conference on paedophilia in the Catholic church summoned by Pope Francis, saying that procedures to prosecute offenders "were deliberately not complied with", and files were destroyed, or not created, allowing abuse to continue. "Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on them." He called for greater transparency, pointing out that it is not transparency that damages the church, but its lack, and covering up.[85]

In December 2020 Cardinal Marx called the Archdiocese of Cologne's decision not to publish an investigation into clergy sexual abuse as 'devastating' for the entire church. In a newspaper interview, Marx claimed "the public now perceives that lawyers are quibbling over details on the backs of the victims". Marx promised that the Archdiocese of Munich would publish its own report on sexual abuse once it was finished in 2021, which would name those who were responsible and that it would not be about sparing his predecessors (Joseph Ratzinger and Friedrich Wetter).[86]

Also in December 2020, Marx announced he would set up a charitable foundation in his diocese to help people who were affected by sexual abuse in the church and that he would be giving the vast majority of his private assets to the foundation, which totaled 500,000 Euros. [87]

In February 2021, Marx revealed that the report on sexual abuse he promised earlier would be published through an independent law firm. In the same month, Marx was accused in a report published by Deutschlandfunk of mishandling the case of a parish employee in the diocese of Trier who was made pregnant by a priest around the year 2000 and who was counselled in the confessional by another priest to have an abortion. Marx had investigated the priest who impregnated, but not the priest who had counselled the abortion; he admitted this error he made to the Congregation for Clergy in 2007. [88]

Also in the same month, Christian Pfeiffer, a German criminologist who had been hired by the German Bishops' Conference in 2011 to investigate sex abuse, made an accusation against Cardinal Marx that Marx had stopped his team's investigation from obtaining some key documents. He had similar criticisms a year before. He alleged that Marx was trying to protect Pope Benedict, himself as well as other German church leaders. Cardinal Marx rejected the allegations from Pfeiffer as baseless. [89]


In October 2008 Cardinal Marx, with co-author Arnd Küppers, published Das Kapital: Ein Plädoyer für den Menschen (Das Kapital: A Plea for Man. Munich: Knaur-Taschenbuch-Verlag), a book named after the work by Karl Marx, that critiques capitalism. Reinhard Marx said the current worldwide financial crisis required a "fundamental social debate" and raised questions about the capacity of contemporary economies to "ensure the welfare of the world."


  1. ^ "College of Cardinals". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Whispers in the Loggia". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Whispers in the Loggia". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ "Pope's cabinet". Archived from the original on 28 April 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  8. ^ "German Catholic Church Has A Lot Of Money - As In The Diocese of Cologne Might Be Richer Than The Vatican". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  9. ^ "RINUNCE E NOMINE, 19.02.2014". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  10. ^ Retrieved 4 March 2020. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 15.10.2020" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  12. ^ a b Cardinal Marx: "Time has come for Europe to look ahead", Catholic Church in England and Wales (June 27, 2016).
  13. ^ a b Edward Pentin, Whither Britain After 'Brexit'?, National Catholic Register (July 6, 2016).
  14. ^, retrieved September 15th 2016
  15. ^, retrieved December 21st 2016
  16. ^, retrieved April 9th 2017
  17. ^, retrieved May 18th 2017
  18. ^ , retrieved December 7th 2018
  19. ^ a b "Cardinal Marx: Doctrine can develop, change". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  20. ^, accessed September 11th 2015
  21. ^ a b, accessed October 7th 2015
  22. ^ . retrieved December 26th 2016
  23. ^, retrieved February 19th 2017
  24. ^, retrieved April 30th 2020
  25. ^, retrieved April 30th 2020
  26. ^, retrieved April 30th 2020
  27. ^ "'No reason to wait longer': Germany's under-fire Catholic Church seeks new leader". 2 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  28. ^, retrieved May 14th 2020
  29. ^ "German Cardinal Criticizes Roman Catholic Church for Negative Tone Toward LGBT People". GLAAD. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  30. ^ "Cardinal Marx on Francis, the Synod, Women in the Church and Gay Relationships: An exclusive interview with the president of the German bishop's conference and papal adviser". America Magazine. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  31. ^ "Divided bishops water down welcome to gays and the divorced". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  32. ^, accessed September 11th 2015
  33. ^, retrieved June 25th 2016
  34. ^, retrieved July 19th 2017
  35. ^ Rundfunk, Bayerischer (3 February 2018). "Erzbischof Reinhard Marx: "Segnung homosexueller Paare ist möglich" |" (in German). Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  36. ^ "Katholische Kirche: Kardinal Marx stellt Segnung homosexueller Paare in Aussicht". Spiegel Online. 3 February 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  37. ^ "Marx: Transparenzoffensive noch nicht erfolgreich". Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  38. ^ Marx: Homosexuelle Paare können einen Segen bekommen, Januar 2020
  39. ^, retrieved September 17th
  40. ^, retrieved June 25th, 2016
  41. ^, retrieved June 17th 2017
  42. ^, retrieved October 31st 2017
  43. ^ San Martín, Inés (8 May 2018). "Pope Francis and Cardinal Marx deliver contrasting takes on Marxism". Crux. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  44. ^, retrieved September 4th 2018
  45. ^, retrieved October 28th 2018
  46. ^ Lampedua: This is not the Europe we want. Accessed September 6th 2015
  47. ^, accessed September 6th 2015
  48. ^, accessed September 8th 2015
  49. ^, accessed September 22nd 2015
  50. ^, retrieved January 12
  51. ^, retrieved February 7th 2016
  52. ^, retrieved September 21st 2016
  53. ^, retrieved September 30, 2016
  54. ^, retrieved February 3rd 2017
  55. ^, retrieved October 1st 2017
  56. ^, retrieved July 26th 2018
  57. ^, retrieved October 10th 2020
  58. ^, retrieved November 4th 2015
  59. ^, retrieved February 13, 2016
  60. ^, retrieved January 12, 2016
  61. ^, retrieved January 19, 2016
  62. ^, retrieved December 19th 2015
  63. ^, retrieved September 23rd 2016
  64. ^, retrieved September 28th 2016
  65. ^, retrieved February 13th 2017
  66. ^, retrieved August 13th 2020
  67. ^, retrieved October 24th 2020
  68. ^ a b, retrieved October 22nd 2015
  69. ^ , retrieved October 28th 2017
  70. ^, retrieved July 3rd 2017
  71. ^ Lamb, Christopher (13 June 2018). "Catholic Church: Vatican Stalls German Bishops' Plan to Give Protestants Communion". Sight. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  72. ^ , retrieved August 8th 2020
  73. ^, retrieved August 13th 2020
  74. ^, retrieved April 16th 2017
  75. ^, retrieved June 11th 2017
  76. ^, retrieved August 27th 2020
  77. ^, retrieved September 9th 2020
  78. ^, retrieved October 22nd 2015
  79. ^, retrieved September 15th 2016
  80. ^ retrieved August 31st 2020
  81. ^ ,retrieved August 31st 2020
  82. ^, retrieved September 1st 2016
  83. ^ NPR, "German Bishops' Report: At Least 3,677 Minors Were Abused By Clerics" Sept 25, 2018 [4]
  84. ^ , retrieved September 26th 2018
  85. ^ "Vatican abuse summit: Cardinal says files were destroyed". BBC News. 23 February 2019. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  86. ^, retrieved December 29th 2020
  87. ^, retrieved March 18th 2021
  88. ^, retrieved March 18th 2021
  89. ^, retrieved March 18th 2021

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Rafael Palmero Ramos
Titular Bishop of Pićan
23 July 1996 – 20 December 2001
Succeeded by
Valentin Pozaić
Preceded by
Hermann Josef Spital
Bishop of Trier
20 December 2001 – 30 November 2007
Succeeded by
Stephan Ackermann
Preceded by
Friedrich Wetter
Archbishop of Munich and Freising
30 November 2007 –
Preceded by
Piotr Jarecki
Vice-President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community
18 March 2009 – 22 March 2012
Succeeded by
Jean Kockerols
Titular church established Cardinal-Priest of San Corbiniano
20 November 2010 –
Preceded by
Adrianus Herman van Luyn
President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community
22 March 2012 – 8 March 2018
Succeeded by
Jean-Claude Hollerich
Office established Coordinator of the Council for the Economy
8 March 2014 –
Preceded by
Robert Zollitsch
President of the German Episcopal Conference
12 March 2014 – 3 March 2020
Succeeded by
Georg Bätzing