BERLIN (Reuters) - The Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, apologised on Thursday to the victims of historic sexual abuse in his archdiocese after a report found fault with his handling of the scandal as well as with former Pope Benedict XVI.
"As the current archbishop, I apologise on behalf of the archdiocese for the suffering inflicted on people in the area of the church in recent decades," Marx said in a statement.
Earlier, Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl published a report into allegations of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising between 1945 and 2019. The report, commissioned by the archdiocese, said there were at least 497 victims of abuse, mainly young males.
The report said the archbishop, a leading progressive in the Church, had mishandled two suspected cases. He is not under suspicion of having participated in abuse or cover-ups.
Marx said changes had already been started in the last 10 years but more was needed, and stressed the importance of pushing ahead with the "Synodal Path", a movement aimed at giving lay Catholics more influence over the running of the church.
"Now is the time to pick up the momentum that the report gives and to take further steps into the future," said Marx whose offer of resignation last year over the abuse crisis was rejected by Pope Francis.
Marx said the archdiocese would carefully read and analyse the report and present a full response next week.
A spokesperson for Benedict did not immediately respond to a request for comment while the Vatican said it would evaluate the full report and examine its details.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Jon Boyle)