His Eminence Walter Cardinal Brandmüller has made a strong statement identifying those who advocate changing the Church’s teaching on Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried” as heretics. Heresy is defined by the Code of Canon Law as “the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (Canon 751). He also accused Cardinal Marx, the Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, of holding positions “in contradiction with the dogma of the Church”, of making “irresponsible” statements that “expose the faithful to confusion and doubts” and of “putting the unity of the Church at risk.”
The statements were made in an interview with Dr Maike Hickson, which can be read in full on Lifesitenews.com. With the permission of Lifesitenews we republish extracts below:
Can the Church admit remarried couples to Holy Communion, even though their second marriage is not valid in the eyes of the Church?
That would be possible if the concerned couples would make the decision to live in the future like brother and sister. This solution is especially worth considering when the care for children disallows a separation. The decision for such a path would be a convincing expression of the penance for the previous and protracted act of adultery.
Can the Church deal with the topic of marriage in a pastoral manner that is different from the continual teaching of the Church? Can the Church at all change the teaching itself without falling herself into heresy?
It is evident that the pastoral practice of the Church cannot stand in opposition to the binding doctrine nor simply ignore it. In the same manner, an architect could perhaps build a most beautiful bridge. However, if he does not pay attention to the laws of structural engineering, he risks the collapse of his construction. In the same manner, every pastoral practice has to follow the Word of God if it does not want to fail. A change of the teaching, of the dogma, is unthinkable. Who nevertheless consciously does it, or insistently demands it, is a heretic – even if he wears the Roman Purple.
What would you say about the recent statements of Bishop Franz-Josef Bode that the Catholic Church has to adapt increasingly to the “life realities” of the people of today and adjust accordingly her moral teaching? I am sure that you as a Church historian have in front of your eyes other examples from the history of the Church, where she was pressured from outside to change the teaching of Christ. Could you name some, and how did the Church in the past respond to such attacks?
It is completely clear and also not new that the proclamation of the teaching of the Church has to be adapted to the concrete life situations of society and of the individual, if the message shall be heard. But this applies only to the way of the proclamation, and not at all to its inviolable content. An adaptation of the moral teaching is not acceptable. ‘Do not conform to the world,’ said the Apostle St. Paul. If Bishop Bode teaches something different, he finds himself in contradiction to the teaching of the Church. Is he conscious of that?
Is the German Catholic Church permitted to go her own paths in the question of the admittance of remarried couples to the Holy Eucharist and thereby decide independently of Rome, as Reinhard Cardinal Marx pronounced after the recent meeting of the German Bishops Conference?
The well-known statements of Cardinal Marx are in contradiction with the dogma of the Church. They are irresponsible in a pastoral respect, because they expose the faithful to confusion and doubts. If he thinks that he can take nationally an independent path, he puts the unity of the Church at risk. It remains: the binding standard for all of the teaching and practice of the Church are her clearly defined doctrines.