A photograph of the audience showed Bätzing greeting the pope with his head bowed and his zucchetto, or skullcap, in his hand.

The meeting came at a time of considerable upheaval in the German Church, after the influential Cardinal Reinhard Marx tendered his resignation to the pope, saying that the Church had reached a “dead end.”

The pope declined the offer, but acknowledged that the abuse scandal had plunged the Church into crisis.

In his statement on Thursday, Bätzing recalled his first private audience with the pope after his election as chairman of the German bishops’ conference, which took place in June 2020.

He said: “After my inaugural visit to Pope Francis as president of the German bishops’ conference a year ago, I was able to meet the Holy Father again today — after the long pandemic.”

“Our conversation focused first on the situation of the Church in Germany in view of the processing of the sexual abuse cases and the difficult situation in several dioceses. Pope Francis is well aware of the situation of the Church in Germany. He hopes that tensions can be overcome.”