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  • German bishops may point way forward as synod draws to close

                               German Cardinal Reinhard Marx

    It’s increasingly clear that the German bishops are leading the way forward from the Synod on the Family, with proposals worthy of reflection and development by Pope Francis.

    Unlike most of the synod’s 13 language groups, the German-speaking participants have approached their task with a fairly clear sense of mission: find a consensus, where possible, and indicate some potential new directions.

    With only three days to go in this second synod assembly, reading through many of the group reports might lead one to despair of any real agreement on the tougher questions being raised: Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, pastoral policies for cohabitating couples, language (less condemnatory vs. denunciation of sin), and outreach to homosexuals.

    The reports indicated a widespread split in positions on these questions – and not much more than that. From the outside, at least, it seems like this synod was a three-week round of infighting and restatement of positions, but with very little openness to reflection and change.  Read More...

  • Cardinal Marx says German bishops back Kasper proposals on divorced and remarried Catholics

                 German Cardinal Reinhard Marx

    Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich said a strong majority of German bishops supported Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to find a way to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, and that he intended to raise the issue at the Synod of Bishops.

    Speaking at the close of the synod’s first day, Cardinal Marx also said it was crucial for the synod’s debate on family issues to be an “open discussion” that extends beyond the synod hall and involves the wider society.

    Marx, who is president of the German bishops’ conference, made his remarks in a meeting with journalists. Synod participants have been told that their official speeches during the assembly should not be published, but that they were free to give interviews.

    The synod’s opening summary document, read at the start of the first session, downplayed Cardinal Kasper’s proposal to find a “penitential path” that would allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Rather than dwelling on the reception of the sacraments, the synod document emphasized proposals to streamline procedures to make annulments easier to obtain.

    Cardinal Kasper’s suggestions have been highly criticized by some Vatican cardinals, who say they could undermine the church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Cardinal Marx said, however, that Cardinal Kasper’s ideas had the support of the great majority of bishops in Germany.

    Marx also expressed some reservations about seeking the pastoral solution for divorced Catholics in a simplified annulment process. Determining whether a marriage was valid will never be easy, he said. He asked how the church could possibly grant annulments to couples married 20 or 30 years. And if annulments are conceded because the level of faith was not adequate at the time of marriage, he said, how many annulments would the church have to give?

    More generally, Cardinal Marx said, if the church starts granting numerous annulments it could weaken its overall message about the sacrament of marriage.