Cardinal Cordes: A responsible shepherd cannot be guided by a blurred “mercy”

The Catholic News Agency has reported on His Eminence Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes’ striking response to heterodox remarks made by the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Reinhard Cardinal Marx.

In an interview with America magazine in January 2015 Marx set out a radical agenda for the future of the Church, casting doubt on the teaching of the Church on the reception of Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried”, cohabitation and homosexual unions.

In a recent press conference Marx asserted that the Church in Germany is “not a branch of Rome. Each conference of bishops is responsible for pastoral care in its cultural context and must preach the Gospel in its own, original way.”

Cardinal Cordes, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, said:

“Since the words of the highest representative of Catholics in Germany have a guideline-like character, and create substantial waves in the media, it makes sense to object publicly to some of the utterances, in order to limit the confusion which they have caused.”

The Cardinal, who is German himself, then delivered a stinging rebuke to Marx. He said:

“The head of the German bishop’s conference certainly has some competence when it comes to a second edition of the hymnal or the changing of the pilgrim route to Altötting.” But, he continued  “the president argues something entirely different.”

“The president argues about the drama of the divorced and remarried! This matter reaches far beyond regional particularities of a pragmatic nature, of a given mentality and cultural background. This matter is bound to the very center of theology. In this field not even a cardinal can loosen such a complex Gordian knot in a single swordstroke. He has the sacramental theology of the Council of Trent. He has also the words of Benedict XVI, who only recently (January 21, 2012) told the Roman Rota, the ordinary court of the Apostolic See, that no-one can simply brush over binding legislation of the Church when it comes to pastoral matters. A responsible shepherd cannot be guided by a blurred ‘mercy.’ And while the president repeats that regarding the Magisterium, he wants to ‘stay within the community of the Church,’ he either ignores the limits that this Magisterium gives to pastoral care, or he is carefree in making a statement to make himself sound good.”

Cardinal Cordes disagreed with Cardinal Marx’s claim that the Germany is an “exemplar” by saying:

“if he wanted to express that Germany is an example in leading the faithful to a giving oneself up to Christ, then I think the bishop is fooled by wishful thinking. The existing German ecclesial apparatus is completely unfit to work against growing secularism.”

He concluded:

“May the shepherds who gather in Rome this autumn also give guidance to the majority of practicing members of the Church, on how to ever deepen their marriage and to root it in Jesus Christ, so they may be testimonies of God’s power in the life of man for their contemporaries.”

“May the synod fathers come to the conclusion to pronounce deep respect for those who never married a second time – who due to their faithfulness to their first marriage commitment, did not enter a second union. Those cases also exist.”

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