Müller corrects Marx on the issue of Communion for divorced/remarried

From Andrea Tornielli:

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, Gerhard Müller, has written a letter asking for the withdrawal and revision of the proposal to allow remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments

ANDREA TORNIELLI
VATICAN CITY
When the document made headlines across the world at the start of October for its reconsideration of the position of remarried divorcees, Fr. Federico Lombardi clarified that: “Nothing changes, there is no news for the divorced who remarry. The document comes in fact from a local pastoral office and does not touch the responsibility of the bishop. Therefore, it has jumped the gun, and is not the official expression of diocesan authorities.” Now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller has disassociated itself from the proposal presented by an office of the Diocese of Freiburg to allow remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.  [But no doubt a lot of damage has been done because of that document, which came from a mid-level official in the Diocese of Freiburg under the aegies of Bp. Zollitsch.  But liberals often use this tactic: creeping incremetalism.  They make an outrageous statement, which must be retracted.  In the meantime, some people buy into it.  The next time the outrageous thing is forwarded, it sounds less outrageous.  And so forth.]

[...]

Müller recognises that the proposal Freiburg published at the start of October contains very correct and important pastoral teachings, but is unclear in its terminology and does not correspond with Church teaching in two points.” The first regards the possibility for couples who have remarried after divorce to “responsibly reach” a “decision of conscience” to receive communion. According to the document’s authors the parish priests and the community must respect this decision. Müller stressed that remarried divorcees must be encouraged to participate in Church life but they cannot be admitted to the Eucharist. To give them this right “would cause confusion among the faithful about the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage (pastoral reason).”

The second criticism is regarding the prayer and blessing of remarried divorcees. Such celebrations were expressly forbidden by John Paul II and Benedict XVI: “Due to the aforementioned discrepancies, the draft text is to be withdrawn and revised, so that no pastoral directions are sanctioned which are in opposition to Church teaching,” Müller writes.

[...]

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx, who is a member of Francis’ eight-member advisory Council of Cardinals openly criticised Müller’s article, stating: “The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot stop the discussions.” He also said Müller’s article was like a “fence” around Francis’ “field hospital” of mercy, an image Francis used to describe the duty the Church has towards the many wounded in today’s modern society.

Marx, and his side, will lose.  It is hard to conceive of any way around the issue of denial of Communion to the divorced and remarried, other than the usual solutions (i.e., separation, “sibling” relationship).  Eastern solutions seem to be non-starters.  The “lack of faith” solution seems also to be untenable.  And the fact remains: marriage is either indissoluble or it is not.

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27 Responses to Müller corrects Marx on the issue of Communion for divorced/remarried

  1. Incaelo says:

    Cardinal Marx is undoubtedly correct when he says that Archbishop Müller can’t stop any discussions, but I seriously doubt that that is Müller’s intent. Discussions are fine, but so long as nothing is changed, this is the teaching of the Church, regardless of anyone’s desires for it to be different.

  2. FrMJPB says:

    “Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx, who is a member of Francis’ eight-member advisory Council of Cardinals openly criticised Müller’s article, stating: “The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot stop the discussions.” He also said Müller’s article was like a “fence” around Francis’ “field hospital” of mercy, an image Francis used to describe the duty the Church has towards the many wounded in today’s modern society.”
    ——————

    NEWS FLASH to Cardinal Marx–Archbishop Muller CAN stop the discussion (atleast in chanceries around the world).

    Also, to what end is Cardinal Marx insinuating a manufactured conflict between Pope Francis and Archbishop Muller when he says that Muller is putting up a fence around Francis’ field hospital?

  3. Legisperitus says:

    FrMJPB: Exactly, cui bono? It sounds as if Cardinal Marx might not have been one of the better choices for the “gang of eight.”

    In other news, congratulations to Cardinal DiNardo on his election as vice president of the USCCB.

  4. dans0622 says:

    I agree with your concluding paragraph. That’s just the way it is, as our Lord Himself made clear. I don’t see a way around it…..except if the Church were to not presume that some or all non-Catholic marriages are valid. Such a “solution” has its own problems, such as then having to presume that everybody in a non-Catholic marriage is fornicating. So, that doesn’t really work.
    Dan

  5. CatholicMD says:

    Good grief. How did the Holy Father pick these guys to be on his “Council of Cardinals”. We just had Cdl Maradiaga give the keynote address for the “Spirit of Vatican II” that amounted to the Church becoming an NGO (despite what his boss says) and now this. Is Cdl Pell just the token conservative among the group? How did these men even get to become priests, let alone bishops and cardinals? It’s like they haven’t read the Gospels and rest of the New Testament. I seem to recall Christ, St. Paul, et al saying things about sheep and wolves, not being conformed to the spirit of the world, picking up your cross daily, etc. I was born in 1983 so obviously I wasn’t around in the 60′s. For those who were, is this what it was like? All of a sudden everything is up for grabs. Hope and change! It’s working out great here in the United States.

  6. jhayes says:

    Torinelli points out that Muëller’s article in Osservatore was written several months ago, before Francis’ comments on remarriage and his announcement that it would be discussed by the Synod

    This categorical rejection of Orthodox practice in relation to re-marriage came after the Pope himself had mentioned the subject in his interview with journalists on the return flight from Rio last July. It later emerged that Müller’s letter was neither new nor had it been written in light of Francis’ remarks. It had in fact already been published in Tagespost last 15 June before Francis issued his statement.

    Now, Cardinal Marx, one of the eight members of the Pope’s advisory council on Curia reform has said “we will see that it [the issue of remarried divorcees] is discussed very broadly; as for the result, I do not know.” He explained that many faithful cannot fully comprehend that “a second union is not accepted by the Church” and believes it is not sufficient to speak of divorce simply as a “moral failure”. Marx also recalled that Rome wants the whole Church to discuss this in greater depth ahead of the Synod.

    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/divorzio-divorce-chiesa-iglesia-church-29587/

  7. Robbie says:

    I commend Archbishop Mueller from attempting to knock down this nonsense, but I get the sense he’s one man trying to plug multiple holes in a leaking dam. When I read the comments of Maradiaga and now Marx, I wonder two things. How did these men become Cardinals and is there enough backbone among the conservatives to say no?

  8. kpoterack says:

    “It later emerged that Müller’s letter was neither new nor had it been written in light of Francis’ remarks.”

    Let’s not make this too complicated. Archbishop Mueller made it clear in a letter this Monday (Nov. 11) that he had published the article in L’Osservatore Romano “after consultation with the Holy Father.” So, even if he had already written it and published it elsewhere months ago, he got Pope Francis’ approval to publish it AFTER the Pope’s comments on the plane home from Rio.

    http://incaelo.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/muller-freiburg-proposal-on-communion-for-remarried-to-be-withdrawn-and-revised/

  9. James Joseph says:

    Are folks really still using that old “don’t put a fence around the law” talk?

  10. SebastianHvD says:

    “It is hard to conceive of any way around the issue of denial of Communion to the divorced and remarried, other than the usual solutions.”

    I believe it’s pretty obvious where this is heading… rubber stamping annulments. [To be fair, tribunals in these USA are improving.] Pope Francis has hinted as much. That was his purpose in calling in the extraordinary synode.

    The horrific thing is, this would – in itself – not be heretical. Just very, very evil. A married couple goes to their local priest, both sign a statement swearing that some condition of nullity was met – and presto, there’s your annulment and you can remarry and receive the sacraments.

    Of course, as those rubber-stamped statements are going to be, for the largest part, made in bad faith, you will have millions of people worldwide for whom 1 Corinthians, 11.29 will apply: “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” [NO. People who receive a judgment from a tribunal are NOT automatically in that position.]

    It will be taken about as seriously as the promises Godparents make during baptism (you know, those funny and quaint ones about that superstition called Satan).

    I’m telling you, this is where it’s going. The G8+1 will shy away from heresy, but not from “pastoral measures” that lay this whole grave responsibility into the hands of the married. But, hey, if two grown-up people claim their marriage never existed, “who am I to judge?”

    Welcome to the 21. Century.

  11. persyn says:

    “I agree with your concluding paragraph. That’s just the way it is, as our Lord Himself made clear. I don’t see a way around it…..except if the Church were to not presume that some or all non-Catholic marriages are valid. Such a “solution” has its own problems, such as then having to presume that everybody in a non-Catholic marriage is fornicating. So, that doesn’t really work.” -Dan

    Actually, this presumption might very well be correct, simply because the average couple enter into civil or even Protestant marriage with no understanding of what a Sacramental marriage truly IS, or perhaps with no understanding that a such a thing even EXISTS. Intent is part of any Sacrament, is it not? I’d argue that many CATHOLICS enter marriages not understanding what they’re really doing, through the fault of those responsible to Catechize them. Maybe part of the reason for so many annulments is that fact that there are so many null “marriages” in the first place. Kyrie, eleison.

  12. SpesUnica says:

    There are some episodes from the Gospels that stand out to me, and seem to be in tension with one another in a way similar to the questions about marriage and annulments at hand. The concern that sometimes Jesus DID “lay down the law” in a way that turned people off:

    Mt. 19:10-11 “At this, his disciples said to him, If the case stands so between man and wife, it is better not to marry at all. That conclusion, he said, cannot be taken in by everybody, but only by those who have the gift.”

    Mt. 19:23-26 “And Jesus said to his disciples, Believe me, a rich man will not enter God’s kingdom easily. And once again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye, than for a man to enter the kingdom of heaven when he is rich. At hearing this, the disciples were thrown into great bewilderment; Why then, they asked, who can be saved? Jesus fastened his eyes on them, and said to them, Such a thing is impossible to man’s powers, but to God all things are possible.”

    And, perhaps even more strikingly:

    Jn 6:67-70 “After this, many of his disciples went back to their old ways, and walked no more in his company. Whereupon Jesus said to the twelve, Would you, too, go away? Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom should we go? Thy words are the words of eternal life; we have learned to believe, and are assured that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”

    But Jesus also exhorts the religious authorities to mercy (a pastoral approach):

    Mt. 23:1-4 “After this, Jesus addressed himself to the multitudes, and to his disciples; The scribes and Pharisees, he said, have established themselves in the place from which Moses used to teach; do what they tell you, then, continue to observe what they tell you, but do not imitate their actions, for they tell you one thing and do another. They fasten up packs too heavy to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; they themselves will not stir a finger to lift them.”

  13. dans0622 says:

    SebastianHvD: I don’t see that happening. I think the biggest, possible, procedural change is the removal of the mandatory review of all initial, affirmative sentences.

    persyn: yes, intent is the key. So, even if people might say they did not sufficiently “understand” marriage, they may also say they wanted a permanent, faithful, and fruitful marriage–even today, most people want these things when they say “I do.” So much for their lack of understanding. I can count on 0 (zero) fingers the number of times I’ve personally seen someone actually claim and prove that he/she did not know what marriage is, essentially. On the other hand, many people can honestly say they did not “truly understand” what marriage is (i.e., what married life is like) until they were married.

    Dan

  14. robtbrown says:

    Robbie says:
    When I read the comments of Maradiaga and now Marx, I wonder two things. How did these men become Cardinals and is there enough backbone among the conservatives to say no?

    Marx: Germany has huge problems. The Church is all but supine there. Although there are good priests here and there, almost every diocese has a very strong liberal bureaucracy. Except for the FSSP and SSPX there is almost nothing good happening. And Switzerland is worse.

    Maradaiga: My guess is that he is someone who isn’t interested in theological arguments but has opted for a populist Catholicism.

  15. anilwang says:

    persyn says: “simply because the average couple enter into civil or even Protestant marriage with no understanding of what a Sacramental marriage truly IS”

    I’ll submit to you that this has always been the case for both marriage and having one’s first child, but one receives Grace in marriage that changes you…if you accept it. That’s sort of hinted at in “1 Tim. 2:15″.

    If you talk to many elderly couples that married young, you’ll discover that in early on in their marriages there are usually many tears and fights (and sometimes even separations for a time) since they really didn’t know what they were getting into. The something happens once the first child arrives. But the key difference is that they grew into the marriage or child rearing and eventually were received the grace to be a spouse and parent and you’d never know that the early years weren’t the perfect parent and perfect couple. The story seems to be the same for couples I know what married within the last 20 years.

    Given this, I’m more likely to believe that most marriages today are valid than to believe that a significant number of Catholic marriages in the past were invalid.

  16. robtbrown says:

    SebastianHvD,

    Disagree.

    1. The pope called the Synod because it was requested. One way or another bishops want the matter resolved.

    2. Signing a document cannot be a solution because it implicitly contradicts the Church’s authority on marriage.

    3. If the Synod or Pope decide that most divorced Catholics have been in invalid marriages, it admits that the cult has been seriously damaged. IMHO, this provides an opening for advocates of Latin liturgy.

    4. Whether or not a divorced couple was in a valid marriage, there remains the problem of a broken family with children shuttled or shuttling between one or the other parents.

  17. Arele says:

    I have to agree with persyn on this one, “I’d argue that many CATHOLICS enter marriages not understanding what they’re really doing, through the fault of those responsible to Catechize them. Maybe part of the reason for so many annulments is that fact that there are so many null “marriages” in the first place. Kyrie, eleison.”

    We don’t see much understanding by priests or by those being married in the church about what true sacramental marriage really is. It’s in a truly awful state – VERY irresponsible, and with dire consequences for all involved. You can’t just quick-fix it either, by allowing leniency in rules for receiving the Eucharist for people trying it wrongly all over again the second – or more – time.

    Sadly, until we begin to teach and value what sacramental marriage truly is, we should not be surprised to see more annulments. It would be the truth.

  18. Magash says:

    I’ve carried out a long discussion on this topic on this very forum and others. I believe that the Church must differentiate between Sacramental Marriage and any marriage not carried out in the presence of a duly appoint Catholic cleric. We are rapidly coming to a point when political entities are recognizing marriage between people of the same sex. Next will come polygamous marriages and who knows what else. This is even true of some marriages celebrated before Protestant ministers, meaning that the man or women conducting your marriage ceremony if you are a member of that church could have been conducting a ceremony for Adam & Steve yesterday. It doesn’t sound to me like what these folks think is marriage is what the Church thinks is marriage.
    I have read that up to 50% of marriages in the United States that come before the tribunals concern marriage between non-Catholics, mostly as a result of RCIA. It’s a good bet none of these folks had pre-Cana instruction, and while they might have some idea of what they think marriage is does their concept of marriage fit the Church’s concept of marriage?
    I just think that we are past the point where the Church should take it for granted that the intent of non-Catholic couples to enter into marriage is the intent to enter into what the Church recognizes as marriage. If they think that the institution they are entering is the same institution that a Same Sex Couple enters, or that it is an institution that can be sundered by divorce, then I would maintain that their intent is not to enter into what the Church recognizes as marriage. If so it would be both pastoral and reasonable for the Church to recognize that.
    We already presume that any non-Catholic in a second or more marriage is engaging in fornication, as well as all of those who are co-habitating. That has done little to stop the practice.

  19. jacobi says:

    Reception of Holy Communion is only permissible for those in a State of Grace, otherwise properly disposed (as explained in Quam Singulari ) and who have observed the proper fast.

    For the divorced and re-married sex is, objectively speaking, a Mortal Sin, as it is for all people outside of a valid marriage, for example cohabiters, those homosexually inclined, or those who have just, shall we say, had a feisty night out.

    The same rule applies to the other deadly sins.

    Now all such people should be welcomed into the Church and particularly to Mass where they can draw on the sacred grace available. But they cannot receive Holy Communion. That would be a Mortal Sin, and possibly Sacrilege if they repeatedly disobey. The solution is Confession and a firm purpose of amendment never to commit that sin again.

    This is the Catholic position and cannot be altered – in spite of what Archbishop Marx and his like say.

  20. anilwang says:

    Magash says: “I believe that the Church must differentiate between Sacramental Marriage and any marriage not carried out in the presence of a duly appoint Catholic cleric.”

    I disagree. It must be remembered the the ministers of the sacrament of marriage are the couple themselves, so even if the vow is made without clergy or in front of atheists, it is still valid. The Church in Korea was started by a lay person that was baptised abroad and there were no clergy in Korea for 100 years. All accounts of the Korean Church that I’ve read state that Korean Catholics had to survive with only two sacraments (Baptism and Marriage) for those hundred years.

    I firmly believe, from experience (see above) that the validity of marriage does not have to do whether you fully know what you’re getting into or if you’re Christian or even if you chose your spouse (e.g. arranged marriages which were common in the past). But it does have something to do whether you consider marriage to be life long or at minimum, you’re only going to get married once so you won’t give up unless there is no hope. If you have this understanding, then you will do what it takes to see the bad times through and be open to the Grace God gives you to grow into the marriage.

  21. lana says:

    I am so happy Muller/Pope Francis have so quickly and publicly squashed this.

  22. Stephen Matthew says:

    Apologies for the long ramble:

    Careful and strong distinction must be drawn between natural marriage, which is not a Christian institution, and is rather part of the natural order established by God for all human-kind; and the sacrament of holy matrimony, which is an explicitly Christian institution which only baptized Christians couples are able to enter into. All sacramental marriages are also natural marriage, but not all natural marriages are sacramental. The marriage ceremonies of non-Christian religions and civil ceremonies perahps meet the requirements for natural marriage, though not always, but are generally never sacramental.

    In a time of wide spread divorce calling into question the permanency of the social and civil aspects of marriage, of “same-sex unions” calling into question the necessary “matter” for marriage and its foundation in the creation of man and woman, in a hypersexualized world where marriage is not a mutually exclusive relationship, in a world where cohabitiation is virtually normative and thus the obligations and benefits of marriage are obscured, and where birth-control and abortion make children and fruitfulness optional: it seems to me that very often we must doubt the validity of many marriages if some question is raised. Certainly civil marriages must be questioned as to being valid natural marriage in the present conditions. Even the “Christian” marriages in ecclesial bodies with non-sacramental views of marriage must be questioned.

    If all of that follows (and I think it does) then do not Catholic marriages require some additional scrutiny when questions arise? How can Catholics, often growing up with little or no catechesis, fail to be influenced by a non- (or anti-) Christian culture and its warped views of marriage? How often does this bending of the notion of marriage go so far as to frustrate the necessary intention etc…?

    I think perhaps some of the places for pastoral “exploration/innovation” regarding marriage and family are along the lines of the following questions:
    How do we catechize children and catechumens learning the faith?
    How do we witness to the wider culture/society in a positive fashion?
    Can we presume that certain entire categories of marriage may be null to simplify tribunal processes?
    How do we better explain the notion of presumed validity and good-faith that differentiates between couples unknowingly in invalid “marriage” and those fornicating?
    How do address the experiences of love, fruitfulness, etc. in invalid “marriages”? (Or those that do not even pretend to be marriage but loosely resemble it in some way?)

    Finally, may we be forced to once again reopen the question of who is and is not within the temporal jurisdiction of the church and thus bond by canonical form? The current concept that once you are “in” you can never get out made declarations of nullity much easier, but it has implications regarding the right to marriage that may not have been well considered. The recent talk that a potential may exist for nullity due to lack of faith/religious maturity would seem to throw the entire discussion another direction. While the juridical view focusing on baptism (or reception) makes the lines very clear, it can create some absurdities (such that by this view, a person whose one and only experience of the faith was an infant baptism, who is then raised in a secular home and society, becomes a convinced atheist, and goes on to violently persecute the Church, would still be considered not only “Christian” but “Catholic” and thus bound to canonical form for marriage). The trouble in all this is that by conventional approaches the pastoral concern for those seeking declarations of nullity leads to a narrowing of the right (possibility) to marriage or vice versa. Unless some new way that is less juridical/canonical and more theological/pastoral, it is not possible to have both “easy (valid) marriage” and “easy annulment” as the one will exclude the other, unlike in the civil context where “easy divorce” and “easy (doubtful) marriage” fit together.

  23. robtbrown says:

    Stephen Mathew,

    1. You might want to read up on the sanation of marriage.

    2. Marriage is a natural institution, and so love, fruitfulness, etc., can exist in non Sacramental marriages, even with Baptized Catholics in invalid marriages.

    3. It is not necessary that matrimonial consent be perfect to validate a marrage.

  24. Pingback: Pope Francis approved the CDF’s directive to Freiburg to abandon its dissent on communion for divorced and re-married « Protect the Pope

  25. Magash says:

    anilwang,
    Yes I understand the ministers of the sacrament of marriage is the couple themselves. What is necessary for the minister of a sacrament to validly confer a Sacrament? According to Trent the internal intention (intentio interna) of the minister of the Sacrament must be to be “doing what the Church does.” Note that I am specifically speaking of validly baptized non-Catholics, or couples consisting of a validly baptized non-Catholic and an unbaptized person, especially in the case of a marriage witnessed by a civil servant or Protestant minister from a group which recognizes unions which the Church has said are not marriage. In that case I would hold that the participants, the ministers of the sacrament do not intend to do what the Church because, in the words of the great Inigo Montoya, “I don’t think that word (Marriage) means what you(they) think it means.”
    To move on to natural marriage. What exactly is the requirement for a natural marriage to be valid.
    When the whole world, specifically the civil entities that generally recognized and perform civil marriages, recognized that marriage was a union of one man and one woman, it was reasonable to determine that civil marriage = natural marriage. Now however, do we claim that a marriage definition, as understood by the participants as equivalent to a union between two individuals of the same sex, can be a natural marriage when the participants clearly don’t understand what marriage is?
    I don’t believe what we want or need is “easy (valid) marriage” and “easy annulment”, but rather a narrower definition of what is a valid marriage be default. In my mind the juridical/canonical way should primarily be concerned with obvious and provable Sacramental and Natural Marriages concerning Catholics and less with dubious unions which are most likely invalid between individuals who were not Catholic at the time of the “marriage”.

  26. Magash says:

    Correction in my first paragraph. Of course a couple consisting of a validly baptized non-Catholic and an unbaptized person cannot be in a sacramental marriage. They would be in a natural marriage.

  27. Stephen Matthew says:

    robtbrown:

    1. I am familiar with the term, and passingly familiar with certain aspects of radical sanation, but is there something specific about it you would suggest?

    2. Certainly natural marriage should be expected to yield many benefits of a natural sort, and may even be graced in more ways than that, I don’t think anyone disputes that.

    I am speaking of the catechetical, evangelistic, and apologetic problems of explaining these questions. I have the advantage of knowing at least the academic answers to many of these things, and our clergy hopefully has a more solid grasp than that, but what of relating these things to the people? The church does not need to change its teaching, but it does perhaps need to find ways of better presenting it in these matters.

    3. It is well that perfection is not required, for I sometimes come near to despair in thinking that we fallen men may ever act with the knowledge and freedom needed to every truly choose anything. Of coarse once imperfection is accepted that opens up the trickier question of just what is sufficient? Oh, while I may have a legalistic streak of mind (even an amateurs fascination with law both civil and canonical), I am ever so glad that I can be reasonably safe in thinking I shall never be involved in the adjudication of a marriage case.