On 17 April, the head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx – who is the archbishop of Munich – gave a homily during Holy Mass in Fürstenfeldbruck, Bavaria. In this homily, the cardinal – who is also a member of the pope’s “Council of Nine Cardinals” – said that “there is no situation in which someone is excluded forever [MH: not even in hell, finally?].”
In his eyes, the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetita now invites and encourages priests in their pastoral care of the faithful to “lead to the Sacraments” and to “integrate [them] with the help of the Sacraments.” One can only look at one’s own “wounds of one’s heart and life”, says Marx, “if one is not himself in an impasse.” That is to say, if someone shows that troubled person “a path into mercy, into reconciliation, into an integration into the community,” then he may be helped.
According to Marx, “there is no situation in which I am excluded from the Mercy of God, if I open myself up to that Mercy.” If one opens oneself up that Mercy, one will experience it with such a power that “we change ourselves, even then when we live in [MH: sinful?] situations that we ourselves cannot change at all.” This applies, in his eyes, not only to family situations, but also to professional and other situations “which we cannot change without adding another sin – [that is to say] confusing situations, complex situations.”
Cardinal Marx added that Pope Francis, in his exhortation, did not “have to change the great doctrinal teaching” and that he, rather, “referred this teaching back to its kernel, to its language which comes from the Gospels.” Marx himself proposes to apply the motto according to Amoris Laetita: “Live out that part from the Gospels which you can live out in this situation, in this life, in these specific circumstances in which you find yourself.”
Cardinal Marx made it clear with this unequivocal statement that he approves fully of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation and its admittance of “remarried” divorcees to the Sacraments. He had intended a more progressive approach all along and had even ominously said only a year ago, in February of 2015, that Germany is “not just a subsidiary of Rome,” and he then added, indeed, that the German bishops could and would go their own independent path, if Rome were to decide in a different manner.
It therefore seems that this independent path is now not necessary any more for Cardinal Marx.