Cardinal Marx: Exclusion is not the language of the Church, the debate remains open

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/18/2014 - 16:57

“If a same-sex couple has been in a relationship for thirty years, I can’t call that nothing.” Pontier, the President of the French Bishops’ Conference said: I’ll be surprised if we don’t reach a consensus on the Synod’s final document.

“Exklusion ist nicht die Sprache der Kirche!” Exclusion is not the language of the Church! Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich, President of the German Bishops’ Conference and a member of the 9-member Council of Cardinals, gave an overview of the Synod debate that is taking place the day before the Synod Fathers vote on the final document, the relatio synodi, tomorrow afternoon. In the daily briefing in the Vatican, he and the President of the French Bishops’ Conference, Mgr. Georges Pontier, stated that the debate will continue beyond Sunday, which is the last day of the Extraordinary Synod, until the Ordinary one in October 2015. The same principle of openness and free expression of opinion will apply during the Ordinary Synod.

“Exclusion is not the language of the Church,” the German cardinal said. You cannot tell Catholics living in irregular family situations, in other words situations that do not meet the ideals taught by the Catholic Church, “you are a second-rate Christian”. Although the Synod will not be adopting the term “gradualness” because it requires further theological study, the important thing is for people’s situations to be taken seriously. We need to recognize all that is evangelically good in certain situations, even when there is no sacramentality in the relationship.”

When it comes to homosexality, “we cannot say to someone: you are homosexual, you cannot live according to the Gospel. It is unthinkable.” Everyone needs “spiritual accompaniment” and if, for example, “two people in a homosexual relationship have been faithful to one another for thirty years, I cannot call that nothing.” Although it is not “all ok” and although the Catholic Churchsees sacramental marriage between a man and a woman as the ideal kind of union, “we cannot see everything in black and white, in terms of all or nothing and this is also where pastoral care comes in.” Mgr. Pontier said the Synod did not “take a step back” in the period of time that passed between the publication of the relatio post disceptationem on Monday and the reports of the various work groups published yesterday. Instead, it found a “balance” between those who are concerned about a given situation being “in line with the Church’s teaching” and those who give greater focus to “individual persons”. “There were no big changes between the two discussion phases, with regard to how gay people are received within the Church.” “Speaking about homosexuality as a situation, not about homosexual people, some circoli minori were definitely concerned about not yielding on such issues as this could spark negative reactions in the culture being addressed.”

In response to a question about what the Pope’s view is on allowing remarried divorcees to receive communion, Marx began with a joke: “Fr. Lombardi is the Pope’s spokesman, not me,” he said, with Fr. Lombardi sitting right beside him. The cardinal then stressed that Cardinal Kasper’s position o0f openness is shared by the “majority” of German bishops, who began discussing these issues long before Kasper made his position known and even before Francis was elected Pope. “This is an important issue in Germany; it affects many people and their families and a large number of practicing Catholics in Germany ask themselves this question.” German bishops are not the only ones who hold this position, Marx pointed out. He revealed that opinions on the subject, vary. The Pope “did not call for two Synods to be held in order to repeat what has already been said,” but to give “new impetus to pastoral care for the family.” According to Marx, “the Church’s magisterium obviously can’t be changed; it is not a static collection of phrases.” The German cardinal mentioned the story told by the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, during the Synod debates, about the fact that he had not been able to sleep after coming across some notes of John XXIII’s on forgiving sinners and the relationship between doctrine and pastoral care. This was when he was Patriarch of Venice. “John XXIII’s decision to convene a pastoral council meeting was a dogmatic decision. Doctrine holds fast but can evolve.”

Cardinal Marx went on to speak about the Synod’s final document, the relatio synodi, which will be published at the start of next week but voted on tomorrow afternoon, after Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi’s separate Synod message is pronounced in the morning. “I’ll be surprised if we don’t reach a consensus on the Synod’s final document,” Mgr. Pontier said, admitting the possibility of differences in opinion regarding individual amendments and paragraphs. Cardinal Marx said the debate that has been going on over the past few days has been “intense”. These days have been full of “excitement”, “expectations and disagreements”. “All Synod fathers, Europeans, Americans and Africans” have taken part in the discussions. Above all though, “there has been a willingness to find a common path,” which will be reflected in the final document. Issues, however, need to be “developed further” “and I hope that the discussions that will take place in parishes and dioceses next year will be as free as the ones held during this Synod. Even if we do not always agree with one another, it is important for people to speak and listen.”

Mgr. Pontier also replied to a specific question about the French-born anti-gay marriage movement “Manif pour Tous”, which held new protests in recent days against a bioethics bill, praising the involvement of the younger generations in the defence of values. He underlined that the debate should cease to be seen as a “power struggle”.

The Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, then answered a question about a piece of information which Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano had published but the Press Office had not. This regarded the decision to publish a summary of yesterday’s circuli minores reports, after a disagreement during the Synod meetings. “When we opened the meeting we mentioned that the Synod had been engaged in a debate and had decided to publish the reports produced by the various groups. I was not obliged to give you any details about who spoke in that debate, how and when. The Synod showed no reservation in its decision to publish them.”

Images, Video or Audio
By Iacopo Scaramuzzi