Vatican City, Nov 29, 2011 / 17:28 pm
After a leading German bishop questioned the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage, the Vatican’s newspaper today published an essay by Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, that called the teaching compassionate and pastoral because it is true to the teaching of Christ.
“Assuredly, the word of truth can be painful and uncomfortable. But it is the way to holiness, to peace, and to inner freedom,” said Pope Benedict in 1998.
“A pastoral approach which truly wants to help the people concerned must always be grounded in the truth,” because “in the end, only the truth can be pastoral,” he wrote, quoting the Gospel promise of Christ that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The article was republished as some senior clerics in Germany are calling for the Church to review its understanding of marriage, along with its prohibition on remarried Catholics receiving communion.
Throughout his 1998 work, Pope Benedict—who was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time—explained that the recent documents of the Church on such matters “bring together the demands of truth with those of love in a very balanced way.”
So while at times in the past “love shone forth too little in the explanation of the truth,” so today, there is a great danger that “in the name of love, truth is either to be silenced or compromised.”
Today’s republication was carried in six different languages under the explanatory subheading of “concerning some objections to the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful.”
It comes two months after the president of the German Bishops’ Conference publicly raised questions over the Church’s teachings on marriage in a newspaper interview.
“We are all faced with the problem of how we can help people in whose lives certain things have gone wrong and that includes a wrecked marriage,” Archbishop Robert Zollitsch said on Sept. 5, only weeks before the Pope arrived for a four-day state visit.