VATICAN CITY, October 19, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – On 14 October, the President of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, made a three-minute statement in the Synod Hall to all the Synod Fathers assembled in Rome to discuss the matters of marriage and the family. He afterwards also published his statement on the official website of the German Bishops, katholisch.de.
In his more than five-page-long presentation, Cardinal Marx first spoke somewhat briefly about the general topic of marriage and its positive characteristics (among them being the welfare of the children), and for the rest of the presentation dwelt on arguments supporting the Kasper proposal.
With particular references to the Second Vatican Council, Marx claimed that a “new path” was found regarding sexual ethics. As a result, according to Marx, sexuality should not be reduced to the mere aspect of having children. Right after this claim, he postulated: “The duty [sic] of this Synod of Bishops is now to deepen and to further develop – in view of the current challenges to the pastoral care of marriages and of families – this Theology of Love, with respect to the [marital] Bond itself, which the Council has established in its foundations, but which has not yet found its fuller realization in Canon Law.”
When speaking of the various aspects of a marriage preparation, Cardinal Marx insisted that one must look not only at “what is not (yet) fully successful in life or even what may well fail completely, but, rather, also at that which already has positive signs of success. For, most of the time, it is not the raised finger, but the out-stretched hand, which motivates people to move ahead on the path of sanctification.” For the German prelate, it is more important, therefore, to look at marriage as a gift, rather than as an “ideal, which can only be realized with human efforts.” On the premise of this dichotomy, he omitted the factors of obligations and fidelity, both of which are the vowed characteristics of a marriage that Catholicism teaches help that marriage to endure and also to protect the nurturing and development of the children involved.
Most stunningly, Marx also claimed that the Sacrament of Marriage does not take place only at the “moment of consent at the wedding, in which both [bridegroom and bride] promise to each other love and loyalty; but it [the Sacrament] develops throughout the whole path of the marriage.” This claim, however, is contrary to the Church's teaching, since the whole Canonical process for determining a possible declaration of nullity of a marriage looks fundamentally and essentially at the moment of the exchange of vows before God at the wedding, and whether or not both spouses then freely gave their full consent and marital vows in a promise to God.
Right after this heterodox remark, Cardinal Marx additionally insisted that the Church has “to give more scope [sic] to the conscientious decision of the bridal and married couple.” (Note definition of heterodoxy: “any opinions or doctrines at variance with an official or orthodox position”; “the adjective “heterodox” could be applied to a dissident”)
He continued: “This is true especially in situations where partners – in the middle of a conflict of values – have to make a decision: for example, when the openness to the procreation of more children comes into conflict with the preservation of the marital and family life.” With this, Cardinal Marx seems to argue that the Church has to give more leeway to Catholic parents to decide for themselves how many children they would like to have, and even to consciously limit the number of their children.
After these liberal remarks – at a time during which Catholic couples have been choosing to have only one or two or even no children, and more faithful Catholics are calling for a return to teaching that encourages the benefits and joys of large families – Cardinal Marx's speech once again presented a favourite proposal of his, namely a change in Church practice that would permit giving Holy Communion to “remarried” divorcees. He commenced this assertion with another unsupported statement: “Often, the failure of a marriage is neither the consequence of human immaturity, nor the consequence of a lack of desire to preserve the marriage.” He continued:
Therefore, the question of how to deal with faithful whose marriages failed – and who not seldomly afterwards, after a civil divorce, have entered into a new civil marriage – remains in many parts of the world an urgent pastoral problem. For many faithful – also for those who live in an intact marriage – it is a question of the credibility of the Church.
Specifically speaking about the wounds of divorce, Marx asked a question: “Can we really heal [the wounds] without making possible the Sacrament of Reconciliation?” With this kind of argumentation, he omitted the whole question of sin, and the reality that people often make their own personal decision to depart from attaining and remaining in a life of grace according to the gift of God's Law. Marx, instead, presents adulterous relationships as a morally neutral development to which the Church now has to respond with a new mercy and supposed openness, allowing those erring couples to receive the Sacraments without a prior repentance and reparation for their sins.
Marx further raised a general question and doubt as to whether one “does justice to the situation of those couples” when saying that they live, objectively, in the state of adultery, “However, does such an answer do justice to the situation of the concerned people? And is it imperative, from the view point of Sacramental Theology?” He continued, “Can people truly have the feeling to be part of us when they are regarded as living in the state of grave sin?” It thus seems that Cardinal Marx implicitly blames the Church for making the sinner feel as if he might be a sinner. This, however, is often enough the objective state of the soul before God, independently of the Church.
Cardinal Marx presented further assertions and questions. Since people, for example, often have children from their second “marriage,” they thus have, in Marx' eyes, new “moral responsibilities” – and it is here for the first time that he explicitly spoke of moral responsibilities – which thus make it so hard for them to separate from their second spouse. Cardinal Marx's answer, once again, is not conversion, but, rather, accommodation. He therefore effectively proposed to alter the moral law: “It is also questionable whether sexual acts in a second civil marriage can be judged independently of the circumstances in life. Can we without exception judge sexual acts in a second civil marriage as adultery?” By way of support for his position, Cardinal Marx explicitly referred to the discussions at the controversial, earlier “Shadow Council” of 25 May in Rome which was then also promptly criticized for its several heterodoxies.
Cardinal Marx concluded his remarks to the Plenary Session of the Synod with reference to Pope Francis and explicitly to his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium; and he then even quoted the pope's own words: “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. ”