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Cardinal Marx Becomes Eighth Prelate to Reject Dubia; Two New Bishops Support Them

Dr. Sandro Magister, the well-respected Vatican expert, has just today published an excellent overview of the current discussion concerning Amoris Laetitia and the subsequent dubia published by the Four Cardinals. He points out that, among the eighteen bishops and cardinals who have made public statements concerning this matter, only seven have defended Pope Francis’ position. Magister says: “There are eighteen cardinals and bishops so far who have spoken on the issue. And of these not more than seven have taken the pope’s side in lashing out against the four authors of the dubia.”

On 21 December, however, an eighth cardinal has now come to the rescue of Pope Francis, with some stunningly contradictory comments, as it seems. According to an 21 December interview as published by, the official website of the German Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany now claims – in an indirect response to the Four Cardinals – that the document is “not as ambiguous as some people claim”:

The document [AL] is not as ambiguous as some people claim. It is not about a new teaching. The pope wants that we look at reality with a new, pastoral view and that we connect our life – even if it did not always turn out well – with the demands of the Gospels and that we trust God’s mercy.

In response to a question concerning the practical consequences of the pope’s document, Marx says that he thinks that the German bishops are behind Pope Francis in this matter and that the “remarried” divorcees may, indeed, under certain conditions (unspecified), now have access to the Sacraments:

It is important for the pastoral care to form and respect the decision of conscience of the individual person. For example, the remarried divorcees shall not – for the rest of their lives and independently of the path which they went – be locked up as in a dead end. Here one has carefully to look at the biographical, sometimes very difficult, situation of the individual person on the background of the Gospel. Part of it is then, too, under certain conditions, the possibility to be able to go again to Communion and to Confession. For this, we have now to encourage the priests. Many act already accordingly. The German bishops have definitely had an impact upon the Synod on the Family. I think that they support the pope and consider his document to be a positive further development. [my emphasis]

Cardinal Marx’ comments are inherently self-contradictory. He first claims that there is “no new teaching,” yet at the same time he says that some “remarried” divorcees may now receive the Sacraments – a practice that has always been disallowed by the Catholic Church for 2,000 years. Cardinal Marx thus further participates in the undermining of the principle of non-contradiction – and subverting with it any sense of rational discourse, and as if logos still mattered.

With Cardinal Marx’s somewhat indirect response to the dubia, the number of Pope Francis’ public supporters – who are also high-ranking prelates – has risen now to eight. However, two additional episcopal voices have now come to the courteous aid of the Four Cardinal’s dubia, and they should also be noted.

For example, according to Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, “the questions being posed to the Holy Father are intended to help achieve clarity”; and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has just stated in a polite interview with Catholic World Report:

Strengthening marriage and families is the whole purpose of Amoris Laetitia. If the document has elements that some serious Catholic scholars see as ambiguous, then the issues they raise need to be dealt with honestly and directly. The differences and discussions bishops are now having over the reception of the document are probably necessary to its proper incorporation into the life of the Church. [my emphasis]

Following Sandro Magister’s summary accounting among the college of cardinals and the bishops, there are now, it appears, at least thirteen high-ranking public supporters of the dubia – whereas there are only eight clear supporters of the pope. Unfortunately, Cardinal Gerhard Müller is not yet among the public supporters of the Four Cardinals and their dubia.

65 thoughts on “Cardinal Marx Becomes Eighth Prelate to Reject Dubia; Two New Bishops Support Them”

  1. Every time a supporter of AL tries to make an argument in favor of the document or in favor of PF’s silence, or ridicules those who have submitted the dubia for clarification, unfortunately and sadly reveal their own stupidity, as their rambling, incoherent statements shout to the world…. I haven’t got a clue.

  2. Honestly, it’s only news now when a German bishop *refuses* to embrace the Sexual Revolution in Church praxis, or Lutheran soteriologies.

    Cardinal Marx stays true to form here.

  3. I don’t think anybody will be at all surprised that Marx thinks AL is quite clear. It was his agenda, along with the other schismatic German bishops, to change the Church’s teaching on marriage from the beginning. It was only when they met resistance at the Synods that they opted to divorce the discipline from the doctrine, hoping that they could slip it in the backdoor. This is still about saving their “Church Tax”.

    • Dear Deacon Augustine, it would be a relief if someone in the inner circle of deception broke free and say “Hey, sorry I get what truth is now and i have been talking crap!” However hopefully Cardinal Dolan will! Please God Help us! Saint Augustine was a great orator before he became a great Bishop when he turned away from being political to being truthful. I do not dislike this pope but i dislike what he is trying to do.

        • Dear Adrian,

          The faith when unadulterated is the most beautiful joy to experience in this life. When the truth is twisted and contorted into lies and deception for whatever reason it’s disgusting, depressing and soul destroying.

          If he converts so will the others that have been lying and deceiving. If he leaves those that have risen to high positions pretending to follow the truth will be driven out, however it would be a joy to see a conversion and his church, Jesus Christ’s Church restored. Many have tried to destroy the church during its history and all have failed.

          • Of course you are right.
            And of course I pray for people I don’t like, because I love them in Christ: who told us to pray for our enemies.

    • I cannot see Archbishop Chaput’s comment as anything more than cautious at best and waffling at worst. Re-read the ‘qualifiers’ within the text of his statement. It seems a pile of mush.

      “IF the document has elements that SOME ‘SERIOUS’ Catholic scholars see as ambiguous, THEN the issues they raise need to be DEALT WITH HONESTLY AND DIRECTLY.”

      • Yes, it does have “plausible deniability” written all over it. I would not be at all surprised if he is looking over his shoulder to see what knives the snake in Chicago is sharpening. But on the other hand, in Rome this will hardly be seen as a ringing endorsement for the Pope’s position.

        • What in the world prevents Archbishop Chaput from saying something like:

          “In light of the many private interpretations to which AL has given rise, some pastors even declaring the Pope himself privately has approved these disparate interpretations, I am convinced that Pope Francis must answer the dubia for the direction of Holy Mother Church’s pastors, the good of the Faithful, and the salvation of souls.”

  4. “It is important for the pastoral care to form and respect the decision of conscience of the individual person.”

    “Forgive me, Father, for I think I might have sinned.”

    “Look, if this is about having sex with your live-in boyfriend again, Fraulein, you really should let your conscience…”

    “I voted for the entire AfD slate in the election yesterday.”

    (Sound of wood cracking) “Ach nee! There’s no place for that kind bigotry in our church!!”

  5. The German bishops have definitely had an impact upon the Synod on the Family. I think that they support the pope and consider his document to be a positive further development.

    I believe it was Waugh, he of the brilliantly caustic yet always apropos pen, who wrote, “I think it is a great cheek of the Germans to try and teach the rest of the world anything about religion. They should be in perpetual sackcloth and ashes for all their enormities from Luther to Hitler.” Surveying the situation currently facing the Church, particularly with such “brilliant” prelates as Marx here patting themselves on the back for the impact the German Church—the one that is literally taxing itself out of existence, if not actually practicing a form of neo-simony—is currently having, I see no reason to disagree with Waugh’s assessment from 50-some years ago.

    The more things change, the more they truly remain the same.

  6. “The document [AL] is not as ambiguous as some people claim. It is not about a new teaching. The pope wants that we look at reality with a new, pastoral view and that we connect our life – even if it did not always turn out well – with the demands of the Gospels and that we trust God’s mercy.”

    Yep. Clear as mud.

  7. It would be good if people didn’t get bogged down in a debate over whether or not AL is binding magisterial teaching or not. The bottom line is that the parts of AL that are clearly the most troubling are in clear contradiction from past teaching specific to this question. Cardinal Marx is wrong in asserting that under certain circumstances the divorced and now living in a new sinful relationship can take Communion. He is also wrong in asserting that we must respect the wrong conscience of these people. He wasn’t a bishop at the time, 1994, so he may have missed this Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church written by Cardinal Ratzinger and approved and commanded be published by Pope St. John Paul II. Here are the most relevant parts.

    “4. Even if analogous pastoral solutions have been proposed by a few Fathers of the Church and in some measure were practiced, nevertheless these never attained the consensus of the Fathers and in no way came to constitute the common doctrine of the Church nor to determine her discipline. It falls to the universal Magisterium, in fidelity to Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to teach and to interpret authentically the depositum fidei.

    With respect to the aforementioned new pastoral proposals, this Congregation deems itself obliged therefore to recall the doctrine and discipline of the Church in this matter. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ(5), the Church affirms that a new union cannot be recognised as valid if the preceding marriage was valid. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists(6).

    This norm is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion: “They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and his Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage”(7).

    The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive Holy Communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only “to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when for serious reasons, for example, for the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples'”(8). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal.

    5. The doctrine and discipline of the Church in this matter, are amply presented in the post-conciliar period in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio. The Exhortation, among other things, reminds pastors that out of love for the truth they are obliged to discern carefully the different situations and exhorts them to encourage the participation of the divorced and remarried in the various events in the life of the Church. At the same time it confirms and indicates the reasons for the constant and universal practice, “founded on Sacred Scripture, of not admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion”(9). The structure of the Exhortation and the tenor of its words give clearly to understand that this practice, which is presented as binding, cannot be modified because of different situations.

    6. Members of the faithful who live together as husband and wife with persons other than their legitimate spouses may not receive Holy Communion. Should they judge it possible to do so, pastors and confessors, given the gravity of the matter and the spiritual good of these persons(10) as well as the common good of the Church, have the serious duty to admonish them that such a judgment of conscience openly contradicts the Church’s teaching(11). Pastors in their teaching must also remind the faithful entrusted to their care of this doctrine.

    This does not mean that the Church does not take to heart the situation of these faithful, who moreover are not excluded from ecclesial communion. She is concerned to accompany them pastorally and invite them to share in the life of the Church in the measure that is compatible with the dispositions of divine law, from which the Church has no power to dispense(12). On the other hand, it is necessary to instruct these faithful so that they do not think their participation in the life of the Church is reduced exclusively to the question of the reception of the Eucharist. The faithful are to be helped to deepen their understanding of the value of sharing in the sacrifice of Christ in the Mass, of spiritual communion(13), of prayer, of meditation on the Word of God, and of works of charity and justice(14).

    7. The mistaken conviction of a divorced and remarried person that he may receive Holy Communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one’s own convictions(15), to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissable(16). Marriage, in fact, because it is both the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his Church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is essentially a public reality.…/rc_con_cfaith_doc_14091994_rec…

  8. I was worried for a minute. I thought this criticism was coming from a Catholic. But was relieved to see it was only Kar(dina)l Marx.

  9. It’s really okay. Cardinal Marx knows about truths not yet revealed by God through the Hegelian Dialectic. Who needs Tradition when we have the power to hammer truth into the shape we want? Come one, come all! Sin and sin boldly!

  10. If it were only a matter of subsidiaries. Couples remarried, or married, outside the Church are not stupid.

    Why would you marry when you shouldn’t according to the norms of the Catholic sacrament?

    Why would you then want to be included in the sacramental life of the Church for the sake of receiving holy communion?

    Why twist the breakaway into a means of desacralization.

    Why ask the priest to do your dirty work?

    What part of no sex outside of marriage don’t you understand?

    Couples living an irregular relationship should do what the Holy Father has suggested. Either examine whether they have real grounds for an annulment or stop pretending. You can’t can consume our beloved Lord if fidelity to sacramental order is disobeyed. You’re excommunicated anyway.

    • Priest:. “The Lamb of God is broken but not divided; eaten but never consumed, sanctifying those who partake thereof.”

      Priest and people:.

      “Accept me this day, O Son of God, as a partaker of thy mystical supper, for I will not tell the mystery to Thine enemies, not will I give thee a kiss as did Judas…”

      (Divine Liturgy)

  11. Cardinal Eijk from the Netherlands is also hoping that the unclarities are solved!! Another cardinal!! But I do not see this news in international press…. In “katholiek nieuwsblad” he speaks about the sooner this unclarities are solved, the better. That the teaching of the Church, cannot be changed in a footnote or by a loose statement on a plane.

  12. I fear that the number of those who support the four cardinals will be very small. Many are quiet because they don’t want to face Francisco.

  13. What Obama is to the destruction of the secular order, Francis is to the destruction of the moral order.
    May God mete out justice quickly, as the faithful pray.

  14. “For example, the remarried divorcees shall not – for the rest of their lives and independently of the path which they went – be locked up as in a dead end.”

    Their continued state of sin was indeed a dead end. A dead end from which they could be easily extricated thanks to the merciful forgiveness won by our Lord on the Cross. All they have to do is go to Confession and firmly resolve to end their sin and scandal.

    Considering what Christ went through to obtain that mercy for them, the ask on their part is infinitely more minimal. Yet, we have these false-shepherds spouting nonsense about dead ends… It’s blasphemy, really.

  15. Any controversial stance that has the broad support of the German Bishops should trigger immense second-guessing from the originator of the stance in question.

  16. The tone of the Cardinals who issued the Dubia, and the bishops who support them, is very respectful of the Pope. Not a single personal attack against the Holy Father or questioning of the legitimacy of his office. By contrast, the tone of the Bishops and Priests attacking the Dubia Cardinals is abusive and scatological. And the Pope himself, the one person who should be speaking up to resolve this issue, remains silent.

  17. Cardinal Marx is a closet Protestant who is trying very hard with his friend. Cardinal Kasper, to smuggle heterodox ideas into the Church via the back door.


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