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Cardinal Marx: Pope Francis Was Joyful that the German Bishops Wrote Guidelines about Amoris Laetitia

Today, on 6 March 2017, the German Bishops’ Conference began its own spring General Assembly in Bensberg (Bergisch Gladbach), Germany. Sixty-six German bishops are now coming together for four days in order to discuss such themes as migration, the priesthood, and ecumenism. At today’s opening press conference, the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, presented the topics to be discussed at this episcopal meeting. He also mentioned that he had recently met with Pope Francis and that he gave to him personally the new pastoral guidelines for Germany in light of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, first published by the German Bishops on 1 February 2017. As we have already reported, the German pastoral guidelines now allow access to the Sacraments for the “remarried” divorcees in certain individual cases and after a somewhat unclear period of discernment.

Cardinal Marx said the following at today’s press conference, in the context of his 6 February visit to Pope Francis in Rome, together ecumenically with the Chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm:

I gave to the pope the text which we have made with regard to Amoris Laetitia, and he has received it with joy; I was able to speak with him about it, and he considers it to be right that the local churches make their own statements once more, and that they therein draw their own pastoral conclusions; and [he] is very positive about this and he received it very positively that we as the German Bishops’ Conference have written such a text.

At the time of this meeting with Pope Francis in Rome on 6 February, the Vatican’s own newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, had already three days earlier supportively published an article about the German pastoral guidelines, on 3 February. As we then reported, the pope’s newspaper, however, did not explicitly mention the quite liberalizing words of those German guidelines, according to which “one also must respect a [individual] decision in favor of the reception of the Sacraments.”

As Edward Pentin reported on 7 February, Cardinal Marx said to him in Rome at the time of his visit with the pope that “he ‘cannot understand’ why there should be different interpretations of Amoris Laetitia to the one favored by the German bishops [inasmuch] as he believes that the line taken by the pope in the apostolic exhortation is ‘very clear.’” Pentin continues, saying:

In brief comments to the Register February 6 in Rome after accompanying an ecumenical delegation to the apostolic palace to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Archbishop of Munich dismissed concerns about lack of clarity in the Pope’s apostolic exhortation on the family.

“I think, in our conference, there was unanimity,” he said. “Some bishops were asking [questions], but I think there is a clear position and the line of the Pope is very clear.” […]

German Church sources, however, say there wasn’t strict unanimity, and possibly the cardinal meant something else by the word “unanimity” as German has the two similar words for it: einhellig and einstimmig. They say that, on good authority, several bishops had “serious reservations” about the guidelines.

One of the German bishops raising questions about the new German guidelines is Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg. Right after the publication of the new pastoral guidelines, he gave an interview. As we then reported:

This bishop [Bishop Zdarsa] is unmistakably and openly confused himself, and cannot publicly even clearly answer the question as to whether the “remarried” divorcees may now receive Holy Communion in Germany. He insists that now, one might even need a further clarification of that German document! “Here we are now again in such a need that someone else has to come and interpret for us the [German episcopal] document,” [my emphasis] the bishop himself says, after being asked specifically about the question of the “remarried” divorcees and whether “everybody can now do things as he wishes.”

Zdarsa sees, moreover, that there is now even more of a need for an “attentive pastoral care” for those with marriage troubles. He sees that “we [bishops] now have given such an immense responsibility [to the local pastors] that not everybody can handle it and endure it in the same measure.” The German prelate then asks a piercing question: if a pastor does not even have the time for a thorough preparation of the youth and of future married couples, “how much less time, strength and patience” will that same priest have in order to enter into this desirably thorough process of discernment, “as the pope now demands it”? In this context, Bishop Zdarsa fears that thus there will be “premature decisions” (“Schnellschüsse), “or that there will be other [grave] causes of conflict which cannot yet be adequately foreseen.” [my emphasis]

In order to be able to find out whether all of the German bishops do indeed support these new pastoral guidelines, I contacted the Bishop of Passau, Stefan Oster a few days ago. I explicitly asked him, whether he himself voted in favor of the document. As of now, I have not received his answer.

It will be important to see whether there will now be a further discussion about this new German document concerning marriage during the current assembly of the German bishops, because there are several important questions and answers that are still unclear. For example, it seems now that even laymen can be officially responsible for the “path of discernment” with regard to the “remarried” divorcees. The German guidelines also seem to indicate that the individual conscience of the faithful has to be decisive finally with regard to the possible and permitted access to the Sacraments. This kind of liberalizing and laxer approach would also further foster subjectivism in the realm of Catholic morality.

In the larger context of the pope’s support of those episcopal documents which favor access to the Sacraments for the “remarried” divorcees, it is important to remember Pope Francis’s supportive letter to the Argentine Bishops of the region of Buenos Aires; the new pastoral guidelines coming out of his own Diocese of Rome; as well as the Maltese episcopal guidelines which have been published by L’Osservatore Romano itself. It seems that, now, we can even more clearly add the German pastoral guidelines to the list of those tendentiously heterodox documents that have effectively received the pope’s support.

As a counterpoint to these discouraging developments, the German theologian, Dr. Markus Büning, now reports on the German website that the Archbishop of Vaduz in Liechtenstein, Wolfgang Haas, has published his own 11 February Pastoral Letter in which he defends the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage. In his own Letter, Archbishop Haas quotes Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio (84):

The Church affirms, however, her praxis which is based on Holy Scripture, not to admit the remarried divorcees to the Eucharistic Meal. They may not be admitted, because their state in life and their conditions of life are in an objective contradiction to the bond of love between Christ and the Church which the Eucharist makes visible and present to us.

Archbishop Haas re-affirms this teaching, also with that pope’s own words that “the reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance which opens up the way to the Sacrament of the Eucharist” can only be given to those who repent and who have the firm intention to live a life “which is not any more in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage.” The prelate adds to these quotes from Familiaris Consortio: “We all are bound by this Church teaching and order.” Archbishop Haas goes even so far as to say that when now “the indissolubility of marriage is being put into doubt” and “when adultery is now supposed to be not any more in each case a grave [mortal] sin, then such an approach is directed directly against the Salvific Will of God.” [my emphasis]

Moreover, as is the case now with Rigoberto Corredor Bermúdez, the Latin American Bishop of Pereira (in Colombia), who just issued, on 1 March, a clear confirmation of the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage, it is to be hoped that more and more bishops will now come forth into the public with similarly bolstering statements, thereby affirming Christ’s teaching and showing that they are not willing to follow Pope Francis’ indirect methods and his often ambiguously promoted new pastoral approach.

50 thoughts on “Cardinal Marx: Pope Francis Was Joyful that the German Bishops Wrote Guidelines about Amoris Laetitia”

  1. Two asides. First, 66 prelates at the General Assembly? Given recent trends in Germany, that would seem to be about 10% of still practicing German Catholics. And, two, I now find the words of a previous German by the name Marx more palatable than those of the cardinal whose photo appears above.

  2. Apparently what is most important for Pope Francis is not whether the divorced and remarried are admitted to Holy Communion, but that the bishops of each country set their own policies. In other words, he is more interested in destroying the unity of the Church. In Amoris laetitia n.3 he endorsed different practices being acceptable in different places.

    • Yes, but they will still do what he asks whether we have “Synodality” or not. It’s like the Protestants – they are divided into thousands of sects, but all fall the same way when it comes to moral doctrines.

    • Why PF and his gang are so cunning and subversive continuing used all means to assault, insult, blasphemy the divinity of the founder of the holy, catholic and apostolic Church, Lord Jesus Christ by allowing the adulterers deconsecrate and sacrilege the Holy Eucharist? The answer is they belong to Satanic NWO who has masterminded them, a bunch of useful idiots in making lies sound truthful and respectably objective, distort more than inform, erroneous doctrines and nonsense philosophies in order to extinct the Roman Catholic Church. Their own self- destructive pride keep making them blind and block the light of truth that all evil forces/gate of hell will never be able to prevail the Christ’s Church. Certainly they and their Supreme Master all will end up in the pits of hell inhaling sulfur smokes and self barbecued.

    • Amoris Laetitia specifically says that some questions of doctrine and pastoral practice can be decided at local level in paragraph 3. I regard that unambiguous paragraph as much more damaging than the ambiguities in Chapter VIII which are, nevertheless, a signpost or invitation to heresy.

      I wonder though what would be the reaction of these Bishops to the following case:

      A lawyer is giving financial advice to an old lady. He realises that she is probably suffering from early dementia and will not notice if he removes the bulk of her money – some million or so – to his own account leaving her in poverty. Subsequently he marries and puts the money to good use buying a very nice house and sending his children to the very best Catholic schools. However one day his conscience pricks him and he goes to talk to a priest in a process of discernment and accompaniment. The question of confession comes up and the priest says that if he is to receive absolution for his sin of stealing he must make restitution of all the money and any profit he has made out of it. The man is aghast. It will mean selling his house, his wife will probably leave him when she discovers she has married a thief and the children will have to leave their Catholic school and be sent to the local government school where there will be awful secular sex education. Without a wife he may be tempted into fornication and adultery. “Sin comes often of an empty purse” Ecclesiasticus 27:1 (ignore the next bit about the love of riches distorting the eye). Surely his stable marriage and all the good that comes from it should be preserved? Should not this question of restitution be left to his conscience? As for communion he had probably availed himself of that all along. He might further be tempted to steal money from another old lady.

      • Excellent puzzle for the moral theologians. They will probably follow the money…..the clergy usually do. Or am I getting cynical in my old age? Every crook and war criminal in history can make an equally persuasive case for not compensating the innocent.

        • You’re right.
          I can’t stand to look a the heretic Marx’s face knowing what we do about him.
          The Church in many places is far too wealthy to believe that poverty is anything but a disease to be avoided at all costs. The Good Lord may let them get their fill before renewing the Church, kicking them out, and showing us the real Christ-like transformation to the soul what real poverty can do.

      • This is a good example of consequences that cannot be easily reversed. Somehow what little moral instruction is left in our world seems to skip the reality that our actions and omissions can inflict injury beyond our ability to repair. The fruits of a faithful marriage lost to faithlessness, the years of building the bond of mutual support squandered for the dry husk of abandonment: these can never be recovered. Why aren’t our shepherds preaching clearly and by every means that marriage takes work, self-denial, a mutual gift of self that lasts until death because it partakes of the gift of Self that Christ makes for the Church? See Eph 5, all of it. These wolves in shepherds’ clothing are striking at the heart of the life of the Church in Christ. Satan knows what he is doing.

        • I have often heard the accusation against Catholics that when they sin they can just go to confession, have their sins forgiven and then sin again. I have had to explain that for absolution one of the conditions is a firm purpose of amendment.

          The justification which the Buenos Aires Bishops produced and which was indorsed by Pope Francis is that a firm purpose of amendment is no longer required basing this upon a misrepresentation of a letter which JPII wrote to a Cardinal.

          So the accusation against Catholics mentioned above becomes soundly based.

          Sin seems to be regarded as breaking some arbitrary rule invented by Doctors of the Law and to have little in the way of consequences so that mercy will always excuse it. This is an entirely illusory view and one has to look at the real world to see the reality of the damage done by sin.
          Suppose B steals A’s car and A has all the inconvenience of losing his car and getting another. B then sells it to C who has no idea that it has been stolen. The police eventually find the car and it is returned to A. C has paid a considerable sum to B but his hope of getting it back from B is pretty baseless. A and C have both lost out so who gets mercy? Apparently only B even though he has no intention of not stealing cars again!

          • Yes, that’s a good point about sin: it has lost all objective reality and consequence. So tell me again why we need redemption.

            And the Pope calls us neo-Pelagian!

    • There is no surprise here. Check out Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium from 2013. Para 32 floats the idea of doctrinal devolution to Bishops’ Conferences. Cardinal Muller pointed out the blindingly obvious conclusion. This would lead to the instant disintegration of the Church. But few people noticed something which stuck out like the Eiffel Tower.

      • Good point. They set the groundwork first, then they introduce the changes to Doctrine through the pastoral level using ambiguous, inclusive language and then say there is no change in Doctrine—not by order or decree, but through pastoral practice, like Communion in the hand.

        The prizes, the goals, the holy grails, are the sacraments of Marriage and Holy Communion. The one a spiritually powerful bastion of family strength in today’s topsy turvy world, the other, the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Savior himself. They waste no time in striking at the heart of the Catholic Church—-the Most Holy Eucharist.

    • And “Synodal Church” sounds like the Greeks [i.e. the Orthodox]. The Pope won’t be the Head of the Church, but Primus inter pares and will only be the “Ecumenical Patriarch of Rome”, and ecumenical in the Modernist sense of the word. If I was a bishop in these times, I’d be planning to build a wall around my diocese to protect my sheep!

    • Oh, this man sitting in peter’s chair is out in the open with his decentralization business. This is open warfare on the UNITY of the Catholic Faith!

  3. Let me hear it with my own ears from the mouth of Pope Francis OR let Pope Francis proclaim a change in Church teaching, own it and speak to it as a proclamation. These renegades, ( I am being so generous), know full well, that Church teaching/ Doctrine HAS NOT and will not Change…..not now, not ever.
    Now some bishops may wish to do it, and some cowardly priests may do it, but the Church’s teachings stand, as protected by our Lord, the Holy Spirit.

    So Cardinal Marxx, can go suck a duck as they say, and squirm that ornery face right on out here.

    Pray for the pope. Stand firm in our faith. Our Lord is near.

    • Someone was so right when said, ” Heresy always begins below the belt,” and G. K. Chesterton have stated that “Right is right, even if nobody does it. Wrong is still wrong, even if everybody is wrong about it.”

      • Spot on. Why does the Church of England exist? Henry 8th’s pelvic urges. Chesterton was so right and so funny about almost everything. What would he say about Pope Francis?

        • I’d like to offer two suggestions about what G.K.Chesterton might say.

          Concerning the pope, he might be tempted to slightly adapt one of Hilaire Belloc’s rhymes:

          Whatever happens,
          We have got
          The Catholic Faith
          And he has not.

          And regarding the current ‘disunity’ in the Church, he might simply repeat some of the last words that he spoke on his deathbed, “It’s all very clear now. It’s between light and darkness and every man must make his choice.”

  4. Francis will never say it. Dont’t you understand? He is changing the doctrine through the minors. After minors action he pretends dumb. This is how he is operating.

    • True. It is because if Francis came out and said it plainly, it would be heresy and he could lose his job. He won’t say it and he won’t clarify anything either. He has others doing it for him because he won’t convict them of heresy. It is changing Doctrine through minors by practice and inclusive, ambiguous language.

  5. Hear ye, hear ye!

    The Catholic Church will from here on be called the Catholic Protestant Church.

    After some time of discernment we can all decide whether murder, theft, detraction, lying and all sorts of sins are no longer sin.
    That is where we are heading …. fast.

    The question is, is the position of the Pope also up for discernment? Can I discern that he is the anti-Christ?

    • Once every Bishop has doctrinal authority, the ex-Catholic Church is just the Anglicans with better architecture.

  6. Collegiality has been a practice since the very founding of the Church on Holy Thursday. The following day, as Jesus was led away to be crucified, one ‘bishop’ took the decision to remain with Mary on Calvary; another bishop had already hanged himself, but the other ten took a collective decision to flee in fear of their lives.

  7. Concerning AL, If something is not clear it is usually not true. It seems that many have tried to explain how communion and confession can be adapted and dispensed to skirt around the truth of what these holy sacraments are and how they should be received. Those that try to implement the change fail miserably each time to form a justifiable argument. Now it seems that the only method left to implement this disgraceful manipulation is through bullying anyone in authority that stands firm anchored to the truth.

  8. God has a way of exposing the wolves who prowl about seeking the ruin of souls. Often in a way that condemns with subtlety, revealing a Divine Sense of Humor. For instance Francis being made joyful by the heretical musings of a Cardinal with the last name of Marx. God is truly omniscient, His enemies always face humiliation and complete failure.

  9. The mood of Francis regarding the scandalous green light given to the divorced remarried couples to require sacrilegiously being given the Holy Eucharist doesn’t matter.
    A Pope who joyfully encourages the faithfuls to such a sacrilege never this abomination happened in the Church’s history.

  10. A “decentralized” Church? No, a disunited Church.

    In one diocese the bishop teaches one thing, and in another diocese the bishop teaches another. Meanwhile, as with the Church of England (where only 2% of the population attends services on Sundays, the teachings of the Church (as expressed by bishops like the ones in Germany) become increasingly meaningless. Why bother following those teachings if they are simply a matter of human choice and decision?

    The Catholic Church in Germany has been shrinking since the Council (, but Cardinal Marx says that Bergoglio received the German guidelines “with joy.”

    As the decline continues in Germany – now that everyone is free to be guided by his or her own “conscience” as to whether they are “at peace” with receiving the Eucharist, or even with bothering to go to Sunday mass at all – let’s see how much “joy” the pope experiences in another generation.

  11. It seems to me that the German document is even worse than described here – there are talks about discernment and accompanying etc., but it also states clearly that ‘wishes to receive the Sacraments are also to be respected’, thus ‘if you want your cookie, you must get your cookie’ (I cannot believe that those responsible for a document believe that Communion is about the Body and Blood of Christ – it seems that for them it is merely a social ritual to demonstrate that one is a loyal payer of Church Tax).

    I am dismayed that there has not been much of an outcry (and especially, deregistering from paying the Church Tax subsidising these heretics) in the last weeks, Germans seem to be too afraid of authorities.

    • There is an opt-out way from the Church tax for Catholics in Germany. But, the clerics there have told Catholics that if they don’t pay, they will be excommunicated. Bullying, fear and intimidation comes to mind.

      • It has been recently stressed by the secretary to the bishops’ conference in an interview that those not paying Church Tax must be denied the sacraments. Although I believe that this has no moral force, I wonder what happens if a number of orthodox faithful do so and make it public. There are many priests who have no time for the bishops’ anti-Catholic apparatus and would find nothing wrong with such a step. However, if it is known that a substantial part of a congregation refuses to pay, will the bishop pressure the priests to deny the Sacraments to them, lest he be deposed as a sympathiser?

        • All the times that I, as a tourist, have been to Communion in various churches across Germany and I’ve never been asked for ID or proof that I’m paying Church Tax. I would be fascinated to work out how they would enforce such rules without emptying the pews even more. The most immediately striking thing about so many fine churches was how few worshippers were at Mass. At the main Sunday Mass in St Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin in April 2015, the place was half empty; even its world famous choir was not enough to tempt people in.

          • Naturally, there is no way to check on the occasional visitors – however, if it became known that many of the parishioners of a church whose priest is already known as conservative refuse to pay Church Tax but still take part in parish life, the priest may get into trouble.

  12. The German bishops have been trying to set their own teachings on marriage and Communion for several years now. They are very wealthy and have no problem telling Rome what kind of Church they want on their terms. Martin Luther would be proud.

    Like Communion in the hand, it starts out small, goes uncorrected, even getting a nod from the Vatican if done with the right intentions and then spreads around the world as it gets picked up by country after country until it becomes the norm.

  13. I often wonder who makes me angrier – the current Roman Pontiff or the two German blowhards, Kasper and Marx.
    Sometimes, I really despise my German heritage. At least my dad had a Polish last name.

  14. More guidelines for the sacrilege approval of the Holy Communion for unrepentant adulterers: Regional Conference of Bishops of Campania (that’s around 20 dioceses), in the region of Naples, Italy. The miracle of Saint Gennaro happened to be right!


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