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Cardinal Marx Under Fire For Removing Pectoral Cross at Temple Mount

In October of 2016, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the head of the German Bishops’ Conference, along with Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the head of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), together made an official visit to Israel. In spite of the fact that this visit was meant to be an ecumenical event, it turned out, in part, to be something very different.

Cardinal Reinhardt Marx and German Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm
Cardinal Reinhard Marx and German Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm

That is to say, the two most prominent representatives of German Christendom – Catholic and Protestant alike – caused a national debate by hiding their own distinctively Christian symbol and Sacred Sign – the Pectoral Cross – while they were both visiting the Jewish Wailing Wall as well as the Muslim Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount., the Austrian Catholic news website, has amply reported on the developments after the release of these pictures showing the two Church representatives without their visible and publicly worn Christian symbols. Major national newspapers such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Welt, and the more populist tabloid Die Bild, have reported on this disturbing fact and have thus allowed further criticism of this obvious submission to the preferences of the two other world religions.

In meeting with Muslim leaders at the Temple Mount, both of the Christian leaders have notably absent pectoral crosses.

On 7 November, Peter Winnemöller, one of the regular contributors to, commented on this incident with the words: “Certain pictures should not exist.” In a piercing way, the author recounts some of the responses to this unworthy public gesture. In the newspaper Bild am Sonntag the author Miriam Hollstein says that, after Jesus picked up His Cross 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, the bishops now laid it down there. A symbolic gesture of infidelity or dishonorable obsequiousness.

Winnemöller himself calls this “ecumenical” episcopal gesture a “bowing down before a dishonest request.” He continues, as follows:

A good collaboration between the religions cannot only demand a yielding from one of the sides. Something more is needed here. However, one also needs to have a certain stamina which our “Church leaders” have lacked.

The author admits to having had a sense of shame and a feeling of shock, and “the urgent wish that, at best, nobody had even seen it.”

Even the liberal journal, Der Spiegel, published an article whose author admits to have been “speechless” in the face of such a pandering “docility” toward their Muslim and their Jewish hosts who apparently – according to the visiting German representatives – had both asked them to remove their sacred Christian symbols out of respect for the “tense situation.” Even for the secular journal Der Spiegel, this is “a denial of the Faith.” There are “many people in the history of Christianity who have died because they had exactly refused to do that,” and we are now being reminded of this loyal fact even by this atheistic journal. “Today, they [these earlier faithful witnesses] are being revered as saints and martyrs.” Persevering endurance is what especially impresses the faithful, “not capitulation toward alien powers.”

Die Bild, a more populist, and popular, newspaper, surprisingly published an article written by the well-known Jewish historian, Professor Michael Wolffsohn, who also criticized the Christian Church leaders, even in the very title of his article: “Cardinal and Bishop Eschewed the Cross.” Wolffsohn points out that “many Christian representatives have visited the Temple Mount. To wear the cross has never been a [contentious] topic.” For him, this recent ecclesiastical gesture “is hard to believe.” The Jewish author then concludes his candid article with these words:

The conduct of the cardinal and the bishop gives alarming hints at their understanding of tolerance. It is obvious that they think that tolerance means something like submission or self-denial.

While Wolffsohn stresses, especially, the fact that the German Church leaders submitted themselves to the inordinate demands of the Islamic representatives, both Church leaders still insist that the Jewish representatives had also asked them to remove their public Christian symbol. It is still contested, however, whether these claims are solid facts or not.

Petra Heldt, a female Protestant pastor and representative of the association “Ecumenical Fraternity”  in Jerusalem, moreover, has offered some very clear words herself when asked to comment upon this recent craven incident involving Cardinal Marx and Bishop Bedford-Strohm. She said: “When you come to the [Temple] Mount in Luther’s garment or in an episcopal garment, you have to keep your Cross. Otherwise, when rebuked for it, you just leave.” She reminds the readers that “here in the East of many religious wars, Christians would rather die than deny the Cross.”

Finally, once again, on 14 November 2016, Michael Wolffsohn redoubles his earlier critique of the German Church leaders, Marx and Bedford-Strohm, in an open letter addressed to both of them by saying: “just as you are tolerant toward Muslims and Jews, you may expect vice versa such a tolerance from Muslims and Jews.” He now asks: “Where is the Courage to Witness for the [Christian] Faith of the German Church leaders?”

Indeed, it seems that there is no excuse for this recent Catholic and Protestant conduct and implicit gesture of an evasion or denial of Christ – at least not in the eyes of some secular and Jewish, as well as Protestant and Catholic, commentators in Germany.

It also seems to show the limits of any ostensibly ecumenical attempt that leads to a watering down of one’s own Christian Faith and one’s own public Christian witness. Instead, one is to foster and to strengthen that Faith and Witness, certainly as a Catholic prelate.

In Catholic terms, this incident is very troubling. Cardinal Marx is a member of the Council of Nine, and one of the closest collaborators of Pope Francis. Not long ago, Francis himself had shown a certain inclination to water down the Catholic Faith for the sake of ecumenism when he visited Sweden. Only upon strong request did he consent to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass while still in Sweden, but not without also stressing that “Proselytism is the most potent venom against the ecumenical journey.” And already earlier, in 2014, he came under criticism for seemingly hiding his own pectoral cross when meeting with a group rabbis in Jerusalem.

To what extent will these Church leaders receive God’s blessing when they show embarrassment about Christ and the Sacred Sign of their own Redemption, especially when they act in such an obviously disloyal way toward Christ? Do they – do we – even adequately now remember Christ’s own trenchant and warning words: “But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)?

85 thoughts on “Cardinal Marx Under Fire For Removing Pectoral Cross at Temple Mount”

  1. Philippians 3:18
    For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.

    Galatians 6:12
    For as many as desire to please in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer the persecution of the cross of Christ.

    1 Corinthians 1:17
    For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.

    Galatians 6:14
    But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.

          • Perhaps you can effectively assist the Church by seeking employment at the Vatican as counsel to the Pope and assist with episcopal ordinations and elevations to the cardinalate. You are emphatically coming across as one who believes himself to be an expert in the matter and all your chosen candidates should the pope go with you will be impeccable, and incapable of betraying their calling.

          • While I don’t know all of the details available to Pope John Paul II at the time, I wouldn’t say for sure that the appointment was made knowing well the errors of Marx. Schonborn did a really good job of appearing orthodox for a long time.

      • The one who kissed a Koran? The one who changed the essence of the Church by changing IS to SUBSISTS IN? The one who allowed a statue of Buddha to be placed on a Tabernacle. That saintly pope?

        • Search my disqus comments of my responses to such accusations that shockingly enough come from those who call themselves Catholics, children of the Church. How do you differ then from Pope Francis, Cardinal Marx et al?

          • Because it cannot be done. I too loved JP2 and B16 back in the day because they were orthodox. But orthodox to what? Certainly not the true Catholic faith passed on by the Apostles. No, JP2 and B16 was/is faithful to the Vatican 2 religion which promotes indifferentism which was authoritatively condemned. What was once taught by the Church as true cannot now not be true.

          • That describes my journey to the truth. I reject the new religion as a counterfeit. It cannot possibly be the same Faith that our ancestors handed on.

        • He would have kissed any gift to him. It’s similar to a solita oscula. Not an issue of religion. To be liturgically correct, even a crucifix shouldn’t go above a tabernacle… Don’t get me wrong, NOTHING should go above it and a pagan symbol doubly bad, but that’s more meaningless platitudes on ‘getting along’ than putting it above Our Lord.

          • Those who conclude as they do as regards the gestures of the great and saintly pope ought to recall scripture wherein Our LORD’s gestures, the gestures of one without sin, were taken by the scribes and the pharisees as not following tradition of the elders or even breaking the sabbath.

          • Well, I don’t think it’s a good idea for him to even be there. Even saints can make mistakes and this was one of his.

            Note that the Pope Honorius was not posthumously condemned for being a heretic himself as much as for not being vigilant enough in opposing heresy…

          • I would give a saintly pope the benefit of the doubt especially when no one has bothered to ask him or those around him the meaning of his gestures but are quick to condemn. The scribes and pharisees did, and Our LORD used the occasion as a teaching moment.
            PS Btw I sense a disturbing feeling from you … you know what it is and I will leave it at that.

          • All of this crabbing back and forth is beside the point. Why do we do this to ourselves? Here we see a Cardinal of Holy Church denying Christ. What difference does it make who gave him the red hat? Christ has been denied. Weep, weep, weep for this man and other priests like him. When I see men like these who flog Jesus again and again I remind myself that even when red-hatted, or with a bishops’ mitre they are PRIESTS. Woe to them when they have to face Jesus and He tells them He doesn’t know them.

          • Can they pass up the opportunity [even where there is no basis] to attack a great and saintly pope?
            And please do not lump my defense of a name of a person [cf. the 8th commandment] especially of a great and saintly pope in your ”All of this crabbing back and forth is beside the point”. I may be one of a very few who does it and may God and his saint not forget what I do.

          • I’m not very good at irony.

            Is it bad to bring up the past of the man who, in his time, was the most famous person in the world?

            If bringing up two or three of the hundreds of scandals (which if anyone else did, they would be deemed a complete apostate) to the Faith that JPII did in broad daylight is “smearing”, then what does that say about the actions of that man?

            If he still gets called “The Great” in spite of all this, imagine the titles that would have been lavished upon him had he acted like a Catholic.

        • Eh, Steve isn’t like Church Militant. Stuff usually stays. People who violate the comments policy a lot get banned. But the comments stay. Be respectful and you’ll probably have no problems.

      • Is there, or is there not a crisis in the Church? From where did it come? What was its cause?

        Faithful Catholics bringing things out into the open helped me a great deal. It helped me understand that the Novus Ordo religion that I was raised in was not the religion handed on by my ancestors. It was a profoundly different thing altogether.

        Pointing out the horrible ugly reality leads souls of good will to the truth, and helps them find out what the Catholic Church actually does believe and teach, and how one can go about practicing it. We can know this partly by recognising counterfeits and avoiding them.

        You seem to want ot hush everything up and pretend that all is well. It is not.

        • You are welcome to look at my blog. The answers of my views on the current Church & World crisis and its cause are there. I am just hoping you will come to the right conclusion that correctly reflects my views since I can see a struggle that is yours to correctly assess and draw the right conclusion from that assessment. I also unfortunately sense from your comments a certain bitterness and envy.

          • No, not envy. Maybe a dash of bitterness. Bitter towards the betrayal of the authority Our Lord gave to His Chuch by the revolutionaries; towards the ones who used the good name of the Church to sell Her out to Her enemies; towards the ones who caused the loss of souls who only went along with what they thought was the program of the Church, of whom I was one before I found the Catholic Faith in her traditions.
            As far as I know, we are in the darkest days of history, and I am not going to go along with the revolution, but will rather expose the lies according to my capacity.

          • Passions are part and parcel of us. With God’s help let’s channel them positively so as to avoid being led along a wrong path by our reaction to the crisis.
            God bless you and yours and his work at your hands.

      • He was a good and saintly man. He was a true believer. But a good pope? He did both good and bad. I love JPII very much, I believe he is in heaven, and ask for his intercession often, but I won’t cover-up for his errors. And there were a couple big ones (e.g. Assisi.)

    • In terms of appointments, those were all conferred by John Paul II, actually: to the episcopate in 1992, as ordinary of Buenos Aires in 1997, and as cardinal (2001). Benedict XVI was not elected until 2005.

  2. I find it hard to believe that Jewish officials requested the removal of the Crucifix before visiting the Western Wall. I would even be surprised that the request was made prior to visiting the Temple Mount. Walking through the Muslim corridor, which includes most of the Christian sites, numerous Crucifixes and religious items are readily sold by the shop keepers. The sales of Christian items are what feeds most of the Muslims that own shops in the Old City. Cardinal Marx is an absolute disgrace to the priesthood.

  3. You quote Peter Winnemöller as writing “A good collaboration between the religions cannot only demand a yielding from one of the sides.”

    Personally, I can’t think of any possible ‘concession’ or gesture that the Jewish or Moslem representatives could have made that would in any way have mitigated, still less have justified, the frankly scandalous action of Cardinal Marx. If he truly loved the Faith, he would have insisted on visiting the Temple Mount whilst still wearing his pectoral cross or not at all.

    (I haven’t referred to the Lutheran’s identical capitulation in my comment as HE could have changed into a Popeye costume and it wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest).

    • Many images of him, and e.g. Card. Turkson, doing the same. If you recall the video that had representatives of religions with their religious symbols, the symbol chosen for Christianity was the image baby Jesus and not that of the Cross.
      They are ashamed of the saving Cross,the LORD will be ashamed of them.

      • Note that’s a relatively modern custom (since Trent), much like tabernacles, which was not observed universally or even at Rome before.

        Medieval custom was a solemn bow. That was what was done in Sarum and was done in the Dominican Rite. In their General Chapter at Rome, in 1569, the Dominicans forbade the spreading imitation of the celebrant to genuflect after each consecration. This lasted until 1611, when the General Chapter at Paris suppressed the bows and implemented the 4 genuflections before and after each elevation then practiced at Rome.

        Similarly, they refused the Last Gospel at the end of Mass and only adopted that in 1589 against resistance.

        • That is very interesting ecclesio-historical information.

          But my post was in reference to reports that Francis does not genuflect when celebrating Mass (thus insufficiently honoring the Blessed Sacrament that he confects).

          To not genuflect may be considered irregular by the Church’s standard of contemporary praxis, but not to show any gesture of worshipful respect at all would be definitely reprehensible, since God Himself is really present as the Blessed Sacrament– all the more so since the Vicar of Christ is the prime exemplar for the whole Church.

          Is it true, then, that Francis does not only omit genuflection when celebrating Mass, but also does not show any worshipful gesture toward the Blessed Sacrament at the appropriate times?

          • Right, but that was exactly my point. Centuries of Dominicans and Sarum (and every Roman Rite priest before Trent) would have looked at you like you were crazy if you said they insufficiently honored the Blessed Sacrament they confected by not genuflecting. Was God displeased by that failure? Doubtfully.

            Should Francis be doing it? Yes, even by Novus Ordo standards in the GIRM unless he has a physical condition which prevents it (more flexible than the rubrics of the 1962 Missal), but it’s a matter of discipline, not dogma.

          • OK, but my question (still unanswered, to someone) was whether Francis performs some other reverential gesture to replace the genuflection and accomplish its purpose (such as bowing, as I see some priests do).

            The erstwhile Dominicans that you mention, while not genuflecting, did something else instead.

            You used the word “failure”, which implies that some reverential gesture should be broached, and while ‘only’ a matter of discipline, failure to manifest such salutary action leads (some) people to misbelieve that there is not much going on up there on the altar.

    • While this one is likely simply a matter of framing and the cross simply sits low, I have to agree with FM who posted before… the January video with baby Jesus as the symbol is… wow. The baby Jesus isn’t the symbol of my faith. My faith is in the crucified and risen Christ. Yes, He became man. And yes, I kneel at the miracle of the incarnation, but the Mystery of Faith is the blood of Christ, poured out for “you and for many.”

  4. I do not believe for one minute these men were asked to take off their Pectoral Cross by Jew or Muslim.

    If they had been asked to do so; then should not have gone.

  5. I’m not quite sure why the author believes this falls into the category of “news”. This kind of thing has been going on in the Church for decades, particularly when meetings with Jewish groups are involved. What would have been news would be the churchmen in question wearing their cross.

    One need only glimpse over the toadying of popes like Paul VI, John Paul II and this current chap to see that denying Christ is about as common as rain water in Vatican circles. Has everyone forgotten so soon John Paul II’s shocking and disgraceful “apology” to the Jews of the world in 2000? Have we forgotten the wretched Assisi interfaith jamborees where statues of Buddha were placed upon Catholic altars? Have we gorgotten the papal grovellings in Jewish and Lutheran temples?

    Mrs Hickson would perhaps do better to give us the historical background which made the actions of creeps like Cardinal Marx possible.

    • Assisi is way overstated. It was simply a world peace prayer gathering. I’d stipulate that there was little good to be gained by it, and some faithful have been confused, but a mountain is made out of a mole hill. Just as he traveled way too much and dragged his papacy down to the level of mundane politicians. Was there good in the faithful seeing him? Perhaps. The kiss of the Koran would have been done to anything given to him and had nothing to religion any more than the solita oscula and genuflection, which are marks on how royalty were treated and ignores that it was not a custom even at the elevations until the 16th century (and the Dominicans resisted even then towards the end). Medieval custom was a solemn bow…

      To be liturgically correct, even a crucifix shouldn’t go above a tabernacle, yet that was done for hundreds of years. The Sacred Congregation of Rites issued numerous rulings prohibiting the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament at the high altar of a Cathedral (since the Divine Office is supposed to be celebrated there), but were ignored. Similarly, the use of chairs in place of the sedilia…


    Our leaders don’t lead anymore
    Our heroes aren’t valiant anymore
    Our fathers aren’t home anymore
    Our mothers won’t birthe anymore

    Our churches don’t awe anymore
    Our futures aren’t safe anymore
    Our past no roots anymore
    Our present not ours anymore

    The truth glossed o’er anymore
    But hang a cross anymore
    They’ll all appear anymore
    Outraged at faith anymore

    They share their lusts and explore
    They’re seasoned whores to the core
    They’re salt of the earth they implore
    These Sodomed – souls at Hell’s door

  7. From the viewpoint of Jewish religious law (halachah) there is no compelling reason why Church leaders should remove their pectoral crosses when visiting the Wall or a synagogue. This problem was already addressed and solved when Pope John Paul II made his visits to the Roman synagogue and the Land of Israel.

    The prayer place before the Wall has the same halachic status as a synagogue. In general terms it is not permitted to display or demonstrate symbols or attributes of another religion in a synagogue. It was decided by the Poskim, however, that this rule doesn’t apply to those symbols that are part of a person’s clothes. Visitors or representatives of other religions are thus permitted to wear the religious symbols and attire that are traditionally considered as part of their clothes. On this basis the Rabbis had no problem in receiving Pope JP II in the Roman synagogue while visibly wearing his pectoral cross. The only attribute that was not permitted to enter the synagogue was the papal cross staff.

    On the basis of this halachic decision a pope or bishop can visit the Wall while wearing his pectoral cross, because, as I said, according to Jewish law the prayer place before the Wall has the same status as a synagogue.

    As far as I know similar rules apply to a Christian church building. When the Chief Rabbi visits St. Paul’s Cathedral at the occasion of a national service, e.g. a royal wedding or jubilee, he is permitted to wear his kippah.

  8. The explanation here is rather very simple from my point of view. They really do not believe all of this and thus are looking to distance themselves from anything that would remind them of their hypocrisy. “O I am really sensitive to the others and their religion and I do not want to offend them, so I am sorry pectoral cross, I will have to put you away.” Just an excuse, but the resultant actions conforms to what they really believe or better, to what they don’t believe in.
    Does a cheating spouse want to be the in company of the other spouse they are cheating on? Remember a priest/Bishop is the husband and father of their parish/diocese.

  9. “…remove their sacred Christian symbols out of respect for the “tense situation.””

    I find this really puzzling; forget about looking for any religious significance in this gesture, where can one even find logic in this?

    But when a representative from Iran comes to Rome, Rome graciously covers nude statues.

    It is really disheartening.

  10. Cardinal Marx has a record of paedophile priest coverup, one notable example is his protection of a priest in Munich, but PF recognises a man on his side, so not a hint of a sanction. It is entirely as expected that he would hide his cross. Perhaps it is fitting that he hides his cross, given his values, but while a Cardinal he should wear the cross properly. Unless something comes of the Dubia nothing will happen to him.

  11. Conformity, power over people, is what the world is moving towards, or trying to move towards. Their mantra is unless we live under the same tent, we are enemies. We’ve seen in towards Brexit, towards the Trump election, and any other manifestation that goes against the this false inclusiveness. I did not read anything here from Marx as to why he removed his cross. If this all starts to ramp up, we should be careful to notice changes in our churches where the Crucifix and the Tabernacles are either moved from being the center of the church, to out right removal. “Come out of her my people, so you do not partake of her sins” my be getting really close now.

  12. I fear many of the Church leaders today don’t actually believe in Jesus Christ. If they did, why would they hide that faith? Why would they not honor him and be a witness for him in every way. As Jesus said, you will know them by their works.
    Pope says that lovers of the Tridentine Mass have mental issues and troubled.
    Pope says that money is evil.
    Pope says that communists think like true Christians.
    Pope says adultery is not a mortal sin.
    Pope says to obey your conscience over the teachings of the Church.
    Pope says that Atheists are saved.
    Pope says to ignore Jesus command to convert the world to Christianity.
    Pope says it is acceptable to use contraceptives
    Pope says homosexuality is okay as long as they obey their conscience

    The question is, does the Pope believe in Jesus Christ?

  13. The hero of the rad trads was Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger who. as Pope, wrote a trilogy in which he said, among other odd things, that Matt 27:25 Let his blood be upon us and his children never happened.

    Matthew is certainly not recounting a historical fact here claims the rad trad hero.

    So rad trads one and all, we had a reigning Pope attacking the Gospel and publicly saying that part of it was made-up by Matthew and I think that is far worse than what these men did in hiding the Cross they are ashamed of.

    If Matthew made-up those words, they that calls into question EVERYTHING in the New Testament.

    We have had fiddy years of this bowing and scraping before these racial supremacists and it is all coming to an end.

    One can either teach Christ crucified or continue to surrender to the Messias-Deniers.

    • I remember lots of sighs of relief on AQ when Ratzinger was elected, but I warned them that one area he could not be trusted was in the field of Christian-Jewish relations. I just don’t think its possible for most Germans to take an objective view on it – national guilt overrides common sense and divine revelation.

      Fortunately he prefaced his books with the very clear statement that they were his private opinions and not part of his Magisterium. Imagine what would happen if Frankenpope loosed his formidible, piercing intellect on this subject….

  14. Highly symbolic actions from Marx; Hide Jesus! Hide his cross! He’s not convenient right now. He’s an obstacle….too divisive!

    Doesn’t this speak volumes of how he sees the Church and its mission to spread the Gospel to all the world?

    • Come on, quit being so rigid. Same sex unions have “value”, after all. So said none other than Reinhard himself. Clearly he is planing to use the photo shoot to implement Amoris Lustitiae in the Archdiocese of Munich.


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