Europe’s bishops appeared increasingly polarised as one gathering last week attempted to revisit the Church’s teaching on the family and another stressed it could never change.
One conference, held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, was attended by the presidents of the German and French bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Reinhardt Marx and Archbishop Georges Pontier. The other, in Torun in northern Poland, included addresses from the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller and the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, was sponsored by the conservative Radio Maryja.
The Rome conference aimed to “deepen the Synod issues theologically” on account of a considerable theological backlog on the subject of the marriage and the family, the Austrian bishops’ news service Kathpress reported.
While what was expected of the synod had now “reached Council level”, the theological debate could not stand up to the Second Vatican Council because no theological commissions were involved, one of the participants pointed out.
For several participants, theology and above all canon law had up to now concentrated too one-sidedly on the contract of marriage and too little on the definition of marriage as a partnership of life and love, the Kathpress report added.
Cardinal Müller began his address at Torun in Polish. “There is no sense in discussing the problem of same-sex partnerships at the Synod. It is forbidden for formal reasons because the family is a relationship between a man and a woman – exclusively and indissolubly. Fear of God and respect for revealed truth and for the family which is built up on this truth forbid it,” he underlined. The Catholic family was a “miniature Church”, he said.
Archbishop Gadecki added that it had been God’s intention that men and women live together “in mutual complementarity, in exclusive, indissoluble unity in which they complement each other”.
Above: Cardinals Marx and Müller