Vatican City, Oct 17, 2014 / 10:22 am
Even though the Synod on the Family's midterm relatio was widely criticized by the bishops' small groups, Cardinal Reinhard Marx affirmed it only needs to be balanced, while speaking at Friday's synod press briefing.
The Archbishop of Munich and Freising also noted the importance of the document's openings regarding the Church's praxis toward homosexual persons and the divorced and remarried.
"There are those who defend the image of a Church who do not want to lose anything (in terms of doctrine), while others are pushing for a different path. The will to find a common ground is needed, and we have it: we have listened to everyone," the German cardinal said Oct. 17
On the other hand, he stressed that "the (final) document cannot include everything that has been said within the small working groups: it would lead to a huge document."
In the small groups' reports released Thursday at the end of four days of discussion, the synod fathers had strongly criticized the structure of the synod's midterm report.
The reports asked that the synod focus more on the positive examples of Christian families; to rewrite the introduction and to more often refer to the Gospel of Family; and also that it adopt a more prudent approach concerning the issues of the divorced and remarried, and homosexuals, in order not to produce confusion among the faithful about Church teaching.
Cardinal Marx added that "the Church's Magisterium is not a static collection of sentences, it is a development. Doctrine is in dialogue with pastoral care. Doctrine is evident, it does not depend on the signs of the times, but it can nevertheless be developed. We cannot change the Gospel. But we have not understood everything yet."
The cardinal insisted that "exclusion is not part of the language of the Church," and that "the divorced remarried are not second-class Christians."
In an interview prior of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Marx – who is president of the German bishops' conference – had maintained that the majority of the German bishops are favorable to the so-called "Kasper solution," i.e., Cardinal Kasper's proposals to permit a wider access to Communion for the divorced and remarried.
Cardinal Marx underscored that "Cardinal Kasper has not made a proposal, but he just raised an issue. We don't have a concrete proposal, but certainly the German bishops' conference goes toward that direction."
He recounted that "the German bishops raised the issue after the clergy sex abuse scandal in 2010," when they "met and discuss how to regain credibility, to be closer to families… and the theme of the divorced and remarried is very current; many families are involved."
"As bishops, we cannot select our faithful, since they are practicing faithful," Cardinal Marx maintained.
He also stressed that "we German bishops are not isolated, I see many thinking this way."
Though he is a member of the Pope Francis' Council of Cardinals, he said he does not "know what the Pope thinks; we have to wait and see."
But, he added, "if we read Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation 'Evangelii Gaudium', we must interpret his thought this way: we have to look at people in the situation they are in."
Cardinal Marx applies this reasoning to same-sex couples.
"In the end, we can examine case by case. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is fair: homosexuals are not condemned for their sexual orientation, and their sexual praxis cannot be accepted."
But "not everything can be evaluated in negative terms," he said.
The cardinal raised the example of "homosexuals who have been faithful, one to the other, for 30-35 years, and they take care the one of the other until the very last moment of life. But they live in irregular situation for the Church… as a Church, can I say that all of this has no value because we are speaking about a homosexual relation?"
"I cannot say: it's all black, it's all white," Cardinal Marx stated. "And we cannot stand behind the logic of 'everything or nothing.'"
These last words echoed the controversial synod midterm report, which was almost completely dismissed by the synod fathers.
Although they underscored the need to foster pastoral care for difficult situations, all the small groups highlighted the importance of highlighting the beauty of the Christian family.
"We think that our reflections are above all addressed to Christian families that have the urgent need of being supported in their testimony to find the strength to continue their daily commitment in a context certainly not easy or favorable to them," one of the Italian small group's report stressed.