27 March 2015, The Tablet

German cardinals row over pastoral care of divorced and remarried

One of the most senior cardinals in the Vatican has condemned as “anti-Catholic” a suggestion by the president of the German bishops’ conference that local Churches should decide their own response to divorced and remarried Catholics who wanted to receive Communion.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller was responding to remarks made by fellow German Reinhard Marx, who told journalists in February that the German bishops’ conference would pursue its own programme of pastoral care on the issue, regardless of the outcome of the Vatican’s Synod on the Family in October.

Cardinal Müller told the French journal Famille Chrétienne this week: “That is an absolutely anti-Catholic statement.”

He condemned Cardinal Marx’s statement that the bishops’ conference was not a “branch office of Rome” and said that they were not an alternative to the magisterium.

“Hearing that an episcopal conference is not a ‘branch office of Rome,’ I take the opportunity to remark that dioceses are not branch offices of the episcopal conference,” he added.

He warned that Cardinal Marx’s vision could put local Churches in conflict with the Holy See.

His comments came days after another senior German cardinal accused his nation’s bishops of being “completely unfit to work against growing secularism”.

Cardinal Paul Cordes, 80, issued a stout rebuttal to Cardinal Marx’s proposal, the US-based Catholic News Agency reported this week, in a 7 March letter to the German Catholic national paper Die Tagespost.

Marx’s statements had caused confusion and betrayed a “theological blurriness that makes you wonder,” he wrote. Marx’s language was more suitable to a bar than to a theological discussion, and was certainly not “imbued with the spirit of communio,” he said.

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