Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the bishop of Vienna, Austria, and one of the closest collaborators of Pope Francis with regard to the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia, has recently made new morally troubling statements with regard to marriage and the family. In a recent talk, he gave the appearance that he publicly condones the idea of “remarriage” after the divorce (but not the annulment) of a Catholic couple who were validly and sacramentally married, using his own mother’s case as an example.
According to the Austrian website Kath.net Cardinal Schönborn gave the address in question in Vienna on 19 October 2016 for the initiative Theologische Kurse, where he spoke once more about Amoris Laetitia and again stressed that Pope Francis’s document “is firmly rooted in the Church’s tradition.” He explained: “The Church’s teaching is developing, but it is developing organically. One continues to write it.” The Austrian cardinal also added: “The Faith does not change, but the form, the presentation of the Faith and the experiences which are being made within the Faith are changing,” because the times and life situations of the people are likewise changing.
Cardinal Schönborn stressed that Pope Francis has not given in Amoris Laetitia‘s Eighth Chapter “a solution for all” with regard to the matter of access for “remarried” divorcees to the sacraments, but that a responsible dealing with each individual case is necessary. The important point, according to the prelate, “is to look a little bit more closely” into each case.
According to Kath.net, Schönborn then said the following with regard to his own mother who was abandoned by her husband and who at the time was raising four children:
If his mother had remarried, his siblings and he would have understood it, even if it would have been difficult for them, according to the cardinal. “It is something else when someone is ready to walk a path together with this woman with four children, but it is different when someone willfully leaves an intact family and thus breaks the relationship. [my emphasis]
Coming from a cardinal – the highest office in the Catholic Church after the pope – this statement is quite scandalous, inasmuch as he proposes the idea that a “remarriage” might even sometimes be something good. He publicly states here that it would have been acceptable, even if his own mother would have “remarried” thereby putting her own soul – and the soul of her new partner – at risk of eternal loss of the beatific vision. He also uses positive words (“walking a path together with this woman with four children”) in order to describe a relationship which violates the indissolubility of marriage and thus is an objective offense to God.
It seems that certain prelates are now more and more losing their reluctance to make public statements that are unmistakably contrary to the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ and who thus put in jeopardy before God the faithful who are entrusted to their own accountable care.