Bishops won’t let synod dictate pastoral practice in Germany

The president of the German bishops’ conference says October’s synod on the family cannot prescribe in detail the pastoral practice for Germany.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx told a German newspaper the German Church “cannot wait” for synodal statements, as marriage and family ministry has to be undertaken now.

The German bishops therefore want to publish their own pastoral letter on marriage and family after the synod, the article stated.

“We are not just a subsidiary of Rome,” Cardinal Marx said.

“Each episcopal conference is responsible for the pastoral care in their culture, and has to proclaim the Gospel in its own unique way.

“We cannot wait until a synod states something, as we have to carry out marriage and family ministry here.”

As far as doctrine is concerned, the German episcopate remains in communion with the Church, the cardinal said.

But on individual issues of pastoral care, “the synod cannot prescribe in detail what we have to do in Germany”.

Cardinal Marx and the majority of German bishops favour German Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to allow some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion after a period of penance.

Cardinal Marx hopes the synod will result in “a further discussion”, and said that it must find a text that “would lead to further progress” towards finding a common theological position on fundamental issues.

But he said theological questions regarding marriage, the family and sexual morality could not be answered during the three weeks of the synod.

Recently, in a book-length interview, Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said detaching the Church’s Magisterium from pastoral practice amounted to a form of heresy.

“The idea of placing the Magisterium in [a] jewellery box and detaching it from pastoral practice, which could evolve at the mercy of circumstances, fashions and passions, is a form of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology,” Cardinal Sarah said.

“So I say solemnly that the African Church will strongly oppose any rebellion against the teaching of Jesus and the Magisterium.”


News category: World.

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