The enactment of a decision to hang crosses in all public buildings in Bavaria has triggered “Division, stirred up trouble and played people off against one another”, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, the president of the German bishops’ conference told the 'Süddeutsche Zeitung' on 30 April.
Bavaria last week ordered all government buildings to display a cross at their entrance. “The cross is a fundamental symbol of our Bavarian identity and way of life,” said Bavaria's new leader, Markus Söder, as he hung a cross in the lobby of the state government’s headquarters in Munich, directly after the rule was passed. The action comes into effect on 1 June.
“If the cross is just seen as a cultural symbol, then it has not been understood”, Marx said. The cross was a sign of opposition to violence, injustice, sin and death but not a sign against other people.
The debate that had ensued about the cross was important as it had brought to light the need to discuss what it meant to live in a country moulded by Christianity. “The cross means including everyone, Christians, Muslims, Jews and non-believers,” Marx said.
Meanwhile the Vatican announced that Cardinal Marx with other German bishops would visit Rome on 3 May to discuss with heads of dicasteries the bishops’ newly agreed handout on communion for mixed-marriage couples. At the bishops’ conference’s spring plenary on 22 February a two-thirds majority voted in favour of allowing couples in inter-Church marriages to receive the Catholic Eucharist together in individual cases. On 22 March, seven bishops, including Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, sent a letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome asking for clarification as to whether the issue was within the competence of a local bishops’ conference. Cardinal Woelki and Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg were the two members of the seven scheduled to take part in the discussions at the Vatican as The Tablet was going to press.
One of the German team is expected to be Bishop Felix Genn of Münster. “I can understand that [the seven] are troubled by questions of conscience but not happy about the way they expressed their objections. I would have wished for an open discussion before the letter was sent to Rome,” Bishop Genn told KNA.
PICTURE: Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising speaks during the opening service of the plenary meeting of the German bishops' conference in Ingolstadt, Germany, Feb. 19. (CNS photo/Markus Now, KNA)