German Cardinal Marx shares his perspective on synod

Cardinal Marx (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Marx (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Most members of the Synod of Bishops on the family are enjoying the strangely warm Roman weather; only members of the groups drafting the synod’s message to the Catholic faithful and drafting its final report were working this morning.

But the media is still here in force and the Vatican press office wanted to give them more views of what happened inside and what will happen next. Tomorrow morning synod members will vote on the message and, in the evening, they will vote on the report.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German bishops’ conference, spoke to reporters today and focused on the report as the final step only of this stage of the discussion. For the next year, Catholic bishops around the world will be asked to study and discuss the themes and consult with their faithful in preparation for the next step: the world Synod of Bishops in October 2015.

Cardinal Marx was one of those bishops at the synod looking particularly for new ways to reach out to Catholics living in family situations that do not meet the ideals taught by the Catholic Church. As a representative of the German bishops’ conference, for example, he said a significant majority of German bishops voted to back “the question” raised by German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who asked about possible ways to admit to Communion some Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried, but who do not have an annulment.

Still, he said, he is not disappointed by the discussion or the opposition of some synod members to the question. The discussion was important, it was mature and, he said, it deals with matters that will continue to be studied by pastors, theologians and canon lawyers.

Interestingly enough, the whole “three steps forward, two steps back” has Catholic roots. It’s part of a procession in Echternach, Luxembourg.

Pope Francis, Cardinal Marx said, has not called two synods simply so bishops listen to one another and then decide, “we can only repeat what we have always said.”

Cardinal Marx told reporters the synod process is important for helping the Catholic Church and its pastors find more compassionate, accurate language for its teaching on morality. It must be clear and faithful to the church’s tradition, he said, must it also must be realistic about how the way many men and women live is not completely good or completely bad.

Exclusion is not the language of the church,” he said. The church cannot say divorced and civilly remarried couples are “second-class” Christians and it cannot say there is no way for a homosexual person to experience the Gospel.

14 Responses

  1. I have seen this philosophy close up. It has been in practice in my faith community for some time. I can tell you there is no “gradualism” because even gradualism calls for conversion. Nothing is ever said to call people to change their lives lest someone become insulted or feel unwelcome. Those who would tell the truth, including the truth “abortion harms women” or that, “abortion is not health care” are not allowed to proclaim it to the body of the parish. That’s what “inclusiveness” means. Meanwhile our priests continue to blather away about how this synod is, “all about inclusiveness”. Kasper and Marx have changed this from a synod on marriage to something else.

  2. Perhaps the bishops would do well to consider the scriptural verse from Genesis that says, “God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone.” God’s solution was the creation, not merely of a friend, but of an intimate partner for Adam.

    The Church has long recognized that sexual orientation is not a choice, but then it expects homosexuals to be able to live without intimacy and companionship. God himself saw that this was not good.

  3. As a Adult Confirmation teacher for the Roman Catholic Church I interview many adults that want to come back to the church but find they don’t know how. The point is to create a path for everyone to come to Jesus in the Eucharist so they can get their personal answers.

  4. As Cardinal Marx and Cardinal Kasper dismiss what the African Bishops say the pews and seminaries in Africa are overflowing and those in Germany are empty!

  5. The truth is the Catholic Church has never taught us that divorced and remarried Catholics are second class Christians. We love them but we can not distribute the Body of Christ to them unless they repent and go to confession. No pope, no cardinal has the authority to reject the teachings of the Apostles delivered to us from Christ

  6. The synod should include Matthew 22:12. The man with the wrong clothes are homosexuals. They are totally in the wrong with anything to do with sexual relationships. ie marriage between man and a woman.

  7. Marx does not understand his Faith does he. God calls us out of sin. He does not say keep your sin and call it virtue. He says choose! We are far too casual about receiving Holy Communion and those in any mortal sin must not take Communion. Again one cannot hold onto and live in a mortal sin and then pretend. There is a choice. This or that not both. The place to make the choice concrete is in the Confessional.

  8. ” Given the connection between these sacraments, an authentic catechesis on the meaning of the Eucharist must include the call to pursue the path of penance (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). We know that the faithful are surrounded by a culture that tends to eliminate the sense of sin (55) and to promote a superficial approach that overlooks the need to be in a state of grace in order to approach sacramental communion worthily. (56) The loss of a consciousness of sin always entails a certain superficiality in the understanding of God’s love. Bringing out the elements within the rite of Mass that express consciousness of personal sin and, at the same time, of God’s mercy, can prove most helpful to the faithful.(57) Furthermore, the relationship between the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation reminds us that sin is never a purely individual affair; it always damages the ecclesial communion that we have entered through Baptism.”

    Sacramentum Caritatis # 20

  9. I would say that – I wouldn’t know anything about divorce or annulments or anything – In my humble opinion, I believe it must be really hard to get an annulment from their first marriage in order to get remarried. Not many people know how to go about getting an annulment so the first thing to do is go to parish priest and he can direct you or even a Religious Education Director. Being that getting this annulment and then go to Confession is how the Church teaches to do things, one should go through the necessary steps to be able to recieve the sacraments again. I would go to marriage counseling first though cause if the couple can talk and work things out it will be so much easier.

  10. Diana,
    Annulments are not divorces, the Church examines the case to see if there was a defect in the marriage. Refusing to have children is one such defect. Most marriages are valid. Falling out does not constitute grounds for an annulment. Marriage is not primarily about sentimental love but concrete sacrificial love. Christ was very clear when the Jews said to Him, who can accept this? He didn’t say lets just give everyone a period of penance and then they can continue in the adulterous relationship. He didn’t say well the Pharisees were putting too much burden on the peoples shoulders by allowing divorce which was their
    custom. He called on them to stop divorce and told them it was their hardness of heart that made them be cruel to their first wife.

  11. God has made atonement for sins of mankind.

  12. It’s time to proclaim from the chair of st peter the perpetual virginity of Jesus Christ….It is this truth that will give hope to any/all who struggle in anyway on how to exercise their sexuality

  13. Why would a cardinal of the church misrepresent church teaching?

    “The church cannot say divorced and civilly remarried couples are “second-class” Christians and it cannot say there is no way for a homosexual person to experience the Gospel.”

    But the church has never said any of those things. Why would a Cardinal intentionally misrepresent what the church teaches?

  14. I suppose Cardinal Marx says this because divorced and civilly remarried are not to be admitted to communion and likewise people experiencing same sex attraction and “living in sin” Mortal sin is mortal sin and those persisting in it are not to be admitted to communion. The same principle is supposed to apply to all of us. It the homosexual person doesn’t chose to”experience the Gospel”, better put “accept the Gospel” under these conditions we cannot put lipstick on a pig and call it something else in the name of “inclusiveness”. We could, I suppose, look at Luke Chapter 15. When those who call themselves “Catholic” consistently attack the unborn child, the institution of marriage, our religious liberty and freedom of conscience approach the communion rail without an ounce of contrition it’s pretty hard not to feel abandoned in the desert. Are our bishops really going after these as “lost sheep” or letting the wolves in among the lambs? Is there really going to be a call for conversion in all this? I’m not hearing it now- only a call to beg those who oppress us for mercy for ourselves and the unborn child!

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