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Cardinal Reinhard Marx Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews
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Cardinal Marx: Lay people can run parishes

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A mostly empty church in Munich.

MUNICH, Germany, March 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – German Cardinal Reinhard Marx plans to allow lay people in his archdiocese to run parishes in response to the priest shortage there and is also open to the possibility of married priests.

Cardinal Marx said parishes in the Archdiocese of Munich will have to be reorganized and current requirements for admission to the priesthood be reconsidered. The archdiocese has a Catholic population of more than 1.7 million but just one candidate for the priesthood this year.

“We are experiencing a great upheaval in the Church at the moment,” the cardinal said.

The 63-year-old Marx, who is president of the German Bishops’ Conference and a member Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals as well as a close adviser of the pope, recently announced a pilot project this fall with parish leadership models.

Cardinal Marx said all of the possibilities were not yet thought through. He cited the “priesthood of all the faithful” and referenced the Second Vatican Council (Chapter 2, Lumen Gentium: “the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated”).

His comments were made to the 180 members of Munich’s diocesan council – its principal lay body – at the group’s plenary assembly on March 18, according to a report from La Croix International that was picked up by CatholicCulture.com.

The cardinal acknowledged that when Pope Francis recently raised the possibility of a married priesthoodor viri probati - to the German weekly Die Zeit, he was not referring to Germany but dioceses in remote areas.

Cardinal Marx said his own pilot project was in fact a response to the priest shortage, “but also to the fact that not all priests are in a position to lead parishes.” 

He said it was important to preserve individual parishes to guarantee the Church’s local presence and categorically rejected combining parishes. The cardinal specifically stated that full-time and voluntary lay personnel would take over parishes. He said there was canonical basis for more lay participation.

“The local church is most significant,” Cardinal Marx said. “We would waste a great many opportunities if we were to withdraw from our territorial roots. It is a case of remaining visible locally."

“Thousands have let me know that they are sure it is worth their while to join in and do pastoral work in their parishes,” continued the cardinal, adding that these parishioners’ vocations would now need a closer look.

Aside from being a top aide to the pope and sitting on his Council of 9, Cardinal Marx is coordinator of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.

Vocations to the priesthood have plunged in Germany in recent years. The drop has coincided with rising liberal reform to the Church by much of its hierarchy there.

Only slightly more than half of the country’s priests avail themselves to the Sacrament of Confession, and there is a concerted push for a loosening of the Church’s law on Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

The German Bishops’ Conference has also promoted homosexual unions as a sacrament, published material in support of gender ideology, and advanced justification for same-sex “marriage.” The Conference voted in 2015 to permit its employees to publicly defy the Church’s moral teaching without putting their employment at risk.

The permanent council of the German Bishops' Conference issued a formal statement in February approving access to Communion for Catholics living in adulterous unions without abstaining from sexual intercourse. The statement formalized the German Church’s dissent from Catholic teaching on Communion, Penance and marriage.

In response to the hotly contested question of Communion for Catholics living in objective sin during the two recent Synods on the Family, Cardinal Marx unequivocally stated that Germany would not be bound by the dictates of Church leadership.

We are not a subsidiary of Rome,” Cardinal Marx said. “The Synod cannot prescribe in detail what we should do in Germany.”

Cardinal Marx has rejected the dubia brought by four cardinals seeking clarification on Amoris Laetitia, on the grounds “the is not as ambiguous as some people claim.”

Cardinal Marx also said recently that it was both clear that Amoris Laetitia allows Communion for civilly remained divorcees and that this was Pope Francis’ intent.



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