- Grim parody of a golden age
The jihadist group now calling itself the Islamic State, which has terrorised religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, has declared its intention to restore the caliphate. Yet the extremists’ aims are remote from those of earlier Islamic rulers
- Home News
- World News
- Parish Practice
- Letters Extra
- The living Spirit
- Iraqi Christian leaders demand protection as Pope warns we are in midst of World War Three
- US Archdiocese sues Satanists for stealing consecrated host for use in black mass
- Church figures pay tribute, urge prayers for Catholic beheaded by Islamic extremists
- Cleric accused of booby-trapping presbytery
- Francis' support for Romero cause is exciting because of its urgency - could he be beatified by end of 2015? Julian Filochowski in El Salvador
- We should have seen the Iraq crisis coming Baroness Warsi
- Wealthy Korea needs a jolt from Pope Francis Fr John Sullivan
The Church in the World
Seemingly contradictory statements from Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, who represents Europe on the Council of Cardinals (C8), and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Archbishop Gerhard Müller, are exposing seemingly deep fissures in the Church.
The statements, on the issue of Communion for remarried divorcees, are causing confusion and consternation among Catholics both within and outside Germany.
Archbishop Müller recently ruled out categorically that remarried divorcees could ever hope to receive the sacraments without an annulment of previous marriages.
However, Cardinal Marx said at a press conference after the gathering of the Bavarian bishops’ conference in the first week of November: “The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot put a stop to the discussion [of how the Church is to deal with remarried divorcees]. It will be discussed in its entire breadth and depth [at the Extraordinary Synod in October 2014].”
The Vatican questionnaire on the family, sent to bishops’ conferences last month, is designed to reflect the opinion of grass-roots Catholics, Cardinal Marx said. “‘Look, this is what the faithful think’ is what Rome expressly wishes to hear,” he explained and added: “While the majority of Catholics desire lifelong marriage, there are circumstances which lead to marriage breakdown and people expect the Church to understand this.”
Four days later, on 12 November, the conservative German daily Die Tagespost published a letter by Archbishop Müller to the president of the German bishops’ conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, saying that a Freiburg Diocese handout on allowing remarried divorcees to receive the sacraments – in individual cases, after consultation with a priest – had to be revoked.
“The Magisterium underlines the practice based on Holy Scripture that remarried divorcees may not be allowed to receive the Eucharist,” Archbishop Müller wrote in his letter, cautioning against “confusing the faithful regarding the Church’s teaching”.
However, the archdiocese’s spokesman, Robert Eberle, said Freiburg was “completely unperturbed” by Archbishop Müller’s demand. He recalled Pope Francis’ words to Religious from Latin America on 6 June: “Don’t worry if you get a letter from the CDF. Explain what you have to explain to the CDF but carry on.”
In an interview in the German weekly Die Zeit, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, was asked whether all the bishops had understood that the Church was asking the laity for their opinion in the questionnaire. He replied that he would be writing to them, adding: “Bishops have reacted differently and some too slowly.”