At synod, German cardinal says Church doctrine can change

A senior German cardinal has emphasised that Church doctrine can change over time.

Speaking at a press briefing last Friday, before the synod on the family delivered its final report, Cardinal Reinhard Marx said the Church’s doctrine can develop.

“Saying that the doctrine will never change is a restrictive view of things,” Cardinal Marx said.

“The core of the Catholic Church remains the Gospel, but have we discovered everything?” he asked. “This is what I doubt.”

The cardinal made a distinction between gay couples who have monogamous relationships for decades and gay persons who are promiscuous.

“I cannot simply say that everything is black or everything is white,” he said.

“We cannot say that since you are homosexual, you cannot experience the Gospel,” Cardinal Marx continued. “This is impossible to me.”

Cardinal Marx also said the Church “needs to make a pastoral effort” to let people who are divorced and remarried know that they are still part of the Church.

“Nobody is excluded [from the Church],” he said. “Nobody is superfluous. Exclusion is not in the language of the Church.”

“We cannot say since you are [this way] you have become a second-category Christian,” Marx said. “This is not possible.”

Cardinal Marx emphasised that the synod on the family is only halfway through its process, as a larger gathering of bishops will take place next year.

But speaking during the synod, Australian Cardinal George Pell said there will be no change in the Church’s doctrine.

He dismissed reports that a growing number of cardinals wanted to recognise “same sex unions” and allow Communion to be offered to divorced and civilly remarried people.

“These views were held by only a very small number,” he said in a statement released through lay group Catholic Voices Australia.

“This kind of shift is not ultimately possible within the Catholic Church.”


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