10 September 2015, The Tablet

Synod divisions blamed on the Germans

Cardinal Gerhard Müller has claimed the present divisive climate in the Catholic Church is caused to a large degree by the German Church, write Christa Pongratz-Lippit and Tom Heneghan.

Speaking at the presentation of the German edition of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s new book, God or Nothing, in Regensburg, Cardinal Müller – the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and himself a German – said he was often asked where German church leaders derived their claim to world church leadership on moral and sexual issues, in view of the ever higher number of Catholics leaving the Church in Germany. Its confessionals, seminaries and religious orders were “empty”. German church leaders were trying “by hook or by crook” to deconstruct and relativise Catholic teaching on marriage “to make it seem that it conforms with society”, Müller said and warned of a schism.

“We must not deceive people as far as the Sacramentality of marriage, its openness for children and the fundamental complementarity of both sexes are concerned,” he underlined.

The Archbishop of Berlin, Cardinal Heiner Koch, who is responsible for family affairs in the German bishops’ conference and will accompany Cardinal Reinhard Marx to the Synod, said he was most concerned that many Catholics would be disappointed by the Synod. When he spoke to bishops abroad it was immediately apparent that views on family issues differed widely, he said. At home, the many emails and letters he received on the subject, reading and answering which had “almost become a full-time job”, showed how divided Catholics were. Family issues were being linked to “mega issues such the question of church authority and its limits”.

Meanwhile, French Bishop Jacques Gaillot, a liberal social activist sidelined by Pope John Paul II in 1995, said Pope Francis had told him that blessing divorced or same-sex couples is a way to “speak well of God to people”.

The Pope received Bishop Gaillot at his Vatican residence for 45 minutes last week in the Frenchman’s first meeting with a pope since he was dismissed from his post as bishop of Evreux and made titular head of the extinct ancient diocese of Partenia in the Algerian desert.
He said that Francis told him: “Continue, what you are doing is good … we are brothers.”

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