The Church in the World

Müller pre-empts Synod on divorcees Free

26 October 2013 | by Robert Mickens | Comments: 6

HEAD OF the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, has warned that the Church cannot accept proposals “argued in terms of mercy” to readmit divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacraments. In a lengthy article published on Tuesday evening in L’Osservatore Romano (OR), he restated that the Roman Church was simply following the command of Christ by upholding its centuries-long exclusion of remarried divorcees from communion.

“An objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivialising the image of God by implying that God cannot do other than forgive,” he said in the 4,600-word article,  issued in several languages. German-language Vatican Radio said Pope Francis gave his permission for the article to be published in OR, but the archbishop’s comments stood in stark contrast to the persistence with which Pope Francis has made God’s mercy and forgiveness a guiding theme of his seven-month pontificate. “The Church is a mother and she must travel this path of mercy, and find a form of mercy for all,” the Pope said on his flight back from Rio de Janeiro in July when asked explicitly about the divorced and remarried issue.

But Archbishop Müller warned that while it is “correct” to say mercy is a “distinctive quality of true discipleship”, it “misses the mark when adopted as an argument in the field of sacramental theology”.

The archbishop’s article appeared to be an attempt to counter efforts by theologians and even some bishops, especially in his native Germany, to challenge the ban on giving communion to divorced and remarried Catholics. And it also looked like an effort to shape the debate when bishops are expected to discuss the issue at next year’s Synod on the Family.

Archbishop Müller, who was recently re-appointed CDF prefect by Francis, also criticised the Orthodox Church for allowing divorce and remarriage. He said their “liberal praxis” and “pastoral leniency” could not “be reconciled with God’s will, as expressed in Jesus’ sayings about the indissolubility of marriage”. But in his July interview Pope Francis seemed to indicate that the Orthodox practice   needed to be “studied within the context of the pastoral care of marriage”.

“Clearly, the care of remarried divorcees must not be reduced to the question of receiving the Eucharist,” Archbishop Müller wrote. “There are other ways, apart from sacramental communion, of being in fellowship with God.”

He said rejection of the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility and “sacramentality” of marriage could be largely blamed on today’s “secularised environment” and mentality. “Because many Christians are influenced by this, marriages nowadays are probably invalid more often than previously, because there is a lack of desire for marriage in accordance with Catholic teaching, and too little socialisation within an environment of faith,” he said. The archbishop said only a church tribunal that grants annulments, and not simply one’s conscience, could determine if a marriage was invalid. However, during his in-flight press conference in July, Pope Francis said the “legal problem of matrimonial nullity [had] to be reviewed, because ecclesiastical tribunals are not sufficient for this”.

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Comment by: Jane
Posted: 10/06/2015 00:41:47

Could you face Jesus and say "I refused to baptise a child". All the excuses in the world count for nothing when anyone is turned away from the church. Who knows where that baptism will lead, it seems to me that a little more faith in God and the Holy Spirit is needed. Conditions and judgemental attitudes are emptying the churches. Welcome is needed, the rest will follow.

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Comment by: Jim McCrea
Posted: 09/06/2015 20:37:12

Is baptism a reward for good parental behavior, or an initiation of a new member of the church?

Have the sacraments become gifts to be controlled by man, or gifts from God?

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Comment by: Leo Sprietsma
Posted: 05/06/2015 21:09:33

I still remember, in my first priestly assignment, having a man come in to arrange for the Baptism of his 6th child. When I enquired as to the Parish of his marriage, he replied –

Oh, Father, we were never married in the church. Before you do that, it has to be "Serious!"

that response is rather like the response of the Apostles to Jesus' requirement about no divorce. "It would just be better not to get married!"

Some people do seem to take the Catholic prohibition of divorce to a "logical" conclusion. If not married in the church, then divorce would not be counted.

They don't seem to worry about the fact that, officially, the Church considers them to be living in sin during the first marriage just as much as if it were a second marriage.

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Comment by: johnofthecross
Posted: 03/06/2015 18:46:48

r u seriously asking such a ridiculous ?

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Comment by: Achany
Posted: 03/06/2015 07:48:48

I do feel very strongly that the child should be baptised for its own sake, although the parents must also be instructed in the need for a Christian education for their child and, if unmarried, persuaded to marry. The latter persuasion must include instruction in the meaning of Christian marriage and all it entails.

In my own family I have succeeded in persuading my son and daughter-in law to marry and the next step is the baptism of their two children. I have high hopes that this will take place as my daughter-in-law is turning towards the Church after an atheist upbtinging.

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Comment by: Aloysius Beebwa
Posted: 02/06/2015 19:11:02

Yes, the passing of Charles Kennedy is a national loss. He was definitely wise and courageous given his prophetic position against the illegal and disastrous war on Iraq in 2003! It must have intensified his suffering! Perhaps through his deep contribution, there will be grounds for reconciliation and discussions and hopefully healing for those whose livelihoods were shattered both near and far. His personal contribution could be a seed for peace in a fragile world. May he rest in peace.
Aloysius Beebwa

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