[up to a point; other than a brief mention near the end of his article, Deacon Nick overlooks the elephant in the Vatican, which/who should have been the main focus of his article – with the German and other fellow-travelling/sycophantic cardinals, bishops and priests playing a subsidiary role]
DEC 31ST 2016 BY DEACON NICK DONNELLY
Cardinal Marx has claimed credit, on behalf of the German bishops, for influencing the Synod on the Family to allow divorced and civilly “remarried” Catholics to receive Holy Communion. He insisted that Amoris Laetitia has not introduced “a new teaching” but a “new, pastoral view” by allowing divorced and remarried the option of receiving Holy Communion after observing a penitential path with a priest. Cardinal Marx went on to indicate that the German bishops would be encouraging priests to implement this “new, pastoral view”, which many were already putting into practice.
Cardinal Marx claimed credit on behalf of the German bishops during his response to a question about the practical implementation of Amoris Laetitia. He first explained that Amoris Laetitia gave primacy to individual conscience and personal circumstances in deciding if a divorced and civilly “remarried” couple could recieve Holy Communion. In his interview Cardinal Marx appeared to put individual conscience and personal circumstances in the foreground, while placing the “horizon” of the Gospel in the background:
It is important for the pastoral care to form and respect the decision of conscience of the individual person. For example, the remarried divorcees shall not – for the rest of their lives and independently of the path which they went – be locked up as in a dead end. Here one has carefully to look at the biographical, sometimes very difficult, situation of the individual person on the background of the Gospel. [Dabei muss die biografische, oft sehr schwierige Situation des Einzelnen im Horizont des Evangeliums gut angeschaut werden].
Cardinal Marx then took the credit, on behalf of the German bishops, for influencing the Synod on the Family in the context his discussion of the option of allowing divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion:
Part of it is then, too, under certain conditions, the possibility to be able to go again to Communion and to Confession. For this, we have now to encourage the priests. Many act already accordingly. The German bishops have definitely had an impact upon the Synod on the Family. [Die deutschen Bischöfe haben die Familiensynode durchaus mitgeprägt.]
The word “durchaus” means “definitely” and “mitgeprägt” has the meaning of “shaped”, “moulded”, “influenced”, “contributed”. Therefore, Cardinal Marx is claiming that the German bishops definitely moulded/shaped/influenced the Synod on the Family to allow divorced and civilly “remarried” to receive Holy Communion.
The majority of German bishops were determined to change the Church’s doctrine, clearly articulated in numerous magisterial documents, that prohibits divorced and civilly “remarried” from receiving Holy Communion. The Church’s prohibition upholds Our Lord’s categorical teaching on divorced and remarriage being adultery (Mk 10:11-12; cf. CCC, 1650). Despite this, the German episcopacy made it clear that their objective was to change the Church’s doctrine.
In 2013 the Archdiocese of Freiburg published a “pastoral initiative” that set out the guidelines for allowing divorced and “remarried” to receive communion. Freiburg attempted to justify their unilateral decision through comments made by Pope Francis interview with Fr Spadaro in La Civiltà Cattolica, “‘It noted that the guidelines support Francis’ call to find a “new balance” between the church’s rules and the need for it to be merciful.” The Archdiocese of Freiburg rejected a letter from the then Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, demanding that they abide by the Church’s clear teaching.
In December 2014, the German bishops published a report claiming that the majority believed that divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive Holy Communion. In February 2015 Cardinal Marx told reporters that the German Church was not a “subsidiary” of Rome making it clear that they would implement their policy on divorced and remarried communion irrespective of the decision taken by the Synod on the Family.
The German bishops were determined to get their way at the Synod on the Family, and in the light of Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Marx is confident enough for the German bishops to take credit for moulding/shaping the Synod to produce their desired outcome: couples committing adultery due to the existence of a first valid marriage are now receiving communion in many German parishes. and elsewhere.
The proposal to allow divorced and “remarried” to receive Holy Communion failed to attain two-thirds majority during the 2014 Synod and was only included in the Synod Final Report due to a decision taken by Pope Francis. In the light of this, it would be helpful to understand what Cardinal Marx considers was the role played by the German episcopacy in moulding/shaping the decision to allow divorced “remarried” to receive communion.