BERLIN (Reuters) – The Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, on Thursday apologized to victims of historic sexual abuse in his archdiocese after a report criticized his handling of the scandal as well as with the former pope Benedict XVI.

“As current archbishop, I apologize on behalf of the archdiocese for the suffering inflicted on people in the area of ​​the church over the past decades,” Marx said in a statement.

Previously, the Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl published a report on allegations of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising between 1945 and 2019. The report, commissioned by the Archdiocese, stated that there had at least 497 victims of abuse, mostly young men.

The report says the Archbishop, a leading progressive in the Church, mishandled two suspected cases. He is not suspected of having participated in abuses or cover-ups.

Marx said changes had already been started in the past 10 years, but more was needed, and stressed the importance of advancing the “synodal path”, a movement aimed at giving lay Catholics more power. influence on the functioning of the church.

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“Now is the time to pick up the momentum the report gives and take new steps forward,” said Marx, whose offer to resign last year over the abuse crisis was rejected by the Pope Francis.

Marx said the archdiocese would carefully read and analyze the report and submit a full response next week.

A spokesperson for Benedict XVI did not immediately respond to a request for comment while the Vatican said it would assess the full report and review its details.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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