In an interview with the German magazine Neuen Bildpost, the Archbishop of Berlin, Cardinal Georg Sterzinsky, said that despite widespread rejection in today’s culture, the Church must continue to affirm that sexual relations are meant for marriage.
“Today,” he continued, “it has become difficult to make people understand the implications of sexual relations and at the same time affirm with conviction that pre-marital relations do not suit man’s nature.” He noted as well that the Church does not look down upon sexual union but rather highly values it. “By its very nature, this sexual union is a expression of the higher love that can be given and of the deepest physical and spiritual unity. Therefore, it is not possible to ‘try before you buy’ nor to aspire to have a physical and spiritual union just ‘to try it out’.”
Regarding divorce, the cardinal recalled that the fact that “the marriage bond remains until death is not a determination of the Church, but rather it comes from God, and thus the Church cannot abolish the indissolubility of marriage, not even out of compassion for those who may be suffering in marriage, precisely because of the Church’s understanding of it. The Church reminds such individuals that marriage remains blessed by God and that each spouse who strives to live the love of self-donation is given as a grace the strength to remain faithful to the other.”
Regarding celibacy, Cardinal Sterzinsky noted that “the special value given to celibacy is not the result of devaluing or showing contempt for the body. It’s not a negation of the body, but rather a vision from the faith: marriage is provisional and finite.” The Christian can reach communion with God in an immediate way and without the need for marriage, if he or she is called to that and receives that specific grace. “Christians can anticipate the definitive Kingdom of God and freely assume a life of celibacy as a sign of the Kingdom of God. The importance of marriage should not be diminished because of the importance of celibate life, as each one is a specific vocation,” the cardinal stated.