FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
DIVISION IN THE CHURCH
March 12, 2015
The sad truth is that there is division in the highest levels in our Church, with liberals on one side and traditionalists on the other. The former would like to be more accommodating to those in sexual wrongdoing (living in, divorced and remarried, same-sex unions), in the name of mercy and compassion, while the latter insist on holding on to orthodox Catholic teaching on morality.
Who is right? The traditionalists of course. They stick to the teachings of Jesus and of the historic Church, while the liberals would like to adapt and conform to a changing world where secularism rises paramount.
Cardinal Cordes says it well, as he contradicts the stand of Cardinal Marx.
Cardinal Cordes says the Church in Germany has barely any supernatural faith left. Now Cardinal Marx would dilute that further, allowing Catholics to disregard authentic faith that is founded on Christ’s words, and be comfortable in their sinful situations, as the world certainly is. Rather than Christians being counter-cultural and a sign of contradiction in the world, the liberals would surrender to the secular and humanist culture and just conform to it.
Cardinal Marx says the German Church has to teach the gospel in her own way. What?! That is exactly what caused schisms in the Church, when dissenters insisted that they knew better than millennia of Church teaching and practice, coming all the way from the time of Christ. That is exactly the way of the Protestant churches, of which there are over 40,000 denominations. All of them teach the gospel in the ways they prefer. The unity of our Catholic Church is precisely because of its firm focus on Christ and on our Church Magisterium.
Rather than focusing on the irregular situations and conforming our faith and practice to this, let us focus on those who have persevered in their marriage, despite the challenges. We did commit to be together for better or for worse. Changing the pastoral practice for those in irregular unions can only weaken Christian marriage further.
Cardinal vs Cardinal: We can’t ignore Christ’s teaching on marriage!
German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, who headed the Papal Council Cor Unum until 2010 and was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has publicly opposed the words and direction of the German Bishops’ Conference. In a Letter to the Editor to the German newspaper Die Tagespost on March 7, 2015, Cardinal Cordes contradicts the words of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German Bishops’ Conference, as well as Bishop Franz-Joseph Bode (Osnabrück).
After the Bishops of Germany had had their conference in Hildesheim, Northern Germany, Cardinal Marx said words that provoked the resistance of Cardinal Cordes. The latter cardinal has responded out of concern that Marx caused confusion among the faithful.
First of all, Cardinal Cordes rebuked Cardinal Marx for his claim that the Catholic Church looks to and expects much from the Church in Germany. He noted that Germany has barely any supernatural Faith left (only 16.2 percent of German Catholics believe in a Triune God, as a personal God with a Face, instead of an abstraction), so therefore, Germany is hardly a model for any other country concerning the Faith. “We have therefore no reason to put us with our Faith up front of the Churches of other countries,” he said.
Cardinal Cordes also resists Cardinal Marx’s claim that the German Church is not merely a “subordinate of Rome” and that, rather, the German Church has to make her own decisions concerning marriage and those who married outside the Church, namely, “the German Church has to teach the Gospel in her own way.”
Cardinal Cordes insists that such questions belong to the responsibility of Rome and not to the German bishops. The matter of marriage lies at the center of theology, and therefore, “a Cardinal cannot easily separate the pastoral approach from the teaching,” he said. “Unless he wants to ignore the binding meaning of Christ’s words and the binding words of the Council of Trent.”
Cardinal Cordes sees a danger in the spirit of independence that came from Cardinal Marx, who insisted that Germany cannot “wait for a Synod in Rome to tell us how we deal with matters of marriage and the family.” He warns that such an “anti-Roman affect” is a destructive force in northern spheres of Europe, destructive for the unity of Faith.
Cardinal Cordes also rebukes Bishop Bode who supports Marx’s claims with the argument that men have to enrich the Faith of the Church, namely that the Church has to incorporate the lives of the people today and adopt the doctrine accordingly – a Paradigm shift in the words of the bishop.
According to Cordes, however, “The Faith of the Catholic Church can only flow out of Holy Scripture and of the Magisterium of the Church.” “Independent of this clear instruction, it would be paradox, if one wanted to give a little group of members of the Church who lives in a pitiable, but objectively irregular situation, the function of a source of Faith.”
Cardinal Cordes closes with his wish that the coming Synod may give these members of the Church clear instruction of how they can draw closer to Jesus Christ so “that they may become witnesses of God’s power in the lives of men.” “Perhaps it happens to dawn upon the Synod Fathers, too, that they honor those couples who keep their once spoken promise and did not enter a new relationship. They also exist.”
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