Hamburg, Germany, March 31, 2022 / 8:10 a.m. (CNA).
German Cardinal Reinhard Marx said in an interview published Thursday that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is “not set in stone” and “one is also allowed to doubt what it says.”
The cardinal made the comments in a seven-page spread in the March 31 edition of the weekly news magazine Stern, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language press partner.
Marx, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, is one of Europe’s most influential Catholic leaders, a member of the Council of Cardinal Counselors to Pope Francis and president of the Vatican Council for the Economy.
He spoke about the Catechism in response to a question on “how homosexual, queer or trans people should be welcomed in Catholic education”.
He said: “An inclusive ethic we envision is not about being lax – as some claim. It’s about something else: meeting at human level, respect for others. The value of love manifests itself in the relationship; not to make an object of the other person, not to use or humiliate the other person, to be faithful and reliable towards each other. The Catechism is not fixed. One can also doubt what he says.
He continued, “We discussed these issues at the family synod, but there was a reluctance to put anything in writing. Even then, I said: There are people who live in an intimate love relationship that is sexually expressed. Are we really going to say that it is worthless? Of course, there are people who want to see sexuality limited to procreation, but what do they say to people who cannot have children?
Marx’s comments are part of a growing push within the German Church for changes to the Catechism’s teaching on homosexuality.
Earlier this month, Bishop Georg Bätzing, Marx’s successor as president of the German bishops’ conference, agreed with a journalist’s assertion that “no one” adheres to Marx’s teaching. the Church that sexuality should only be practiced within marriage.
“It’s true,” Bätzing said. “And we have to change the Catechism a bit about that. Sexuality is a gift from God. And not a sin.
He was speaking after participants in Germany’s “Synodal Way” voted in favor of draft documents calling for the blessing of the same sex and the revision of Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
In February, another prominent European Church leader, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, was interviewed by the German Catholic news agency KNA about his handling of “Church teaching that homosexuality is a sin”.
He replied, “I think that’s wrong. But I also believe that we are thinking about the future in the doctrine here. The way the pope has spoken in the past can lead to a change in doctrine. Because I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct.
Hollerich, the Archbishop of Luxembourg, will play a central role in the upcoming synod on synodality in Rome, as general rapporteur. He is also President of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Union (COMECE).
The Catechism, which Pope John Paul II has described as “a sure standard for the teaching of the faith”, says: “Based on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of gross depravity, the tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are inherently disordered”. .’ They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a true affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
“The number of men and women who have deep homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, objectively disordered, constitutes for the majority of them a test. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”
He continues: “Any signs of unjust discrimination against them must be avoided. These people are called to accomplish the will of God in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter because of their condition.
Cardinal Marx celebrated a mass marking “20 years of queer worship and pastoral care” in Munich earlier this month.
In his interview with Stern, Marx was asked about the Mass and whether homosexuality was “recently still considered a sin in the Church”.
He said, “Homosexuality is not a sin. It is a Christian attitude when two people, regardless of gender, stand up for each other in joy and pain.
“I’m talking about the primacy of love, especially in sexual encounters. But I must confess that even 10 or 15 years ago, I myself could not have imagined that one day I would celebrate this service in this way. Now I was really looking forward to it.
Cardinal Marx’s interviewer noted that there was a rainbow flag in front of the Mass altar. He was asked if Rome had contacted him about this.
“Over the past few years I’ve received several letters about this, but I think I’m doing the right thing,” he said.
“I have felt more free to speak my mind in recent years and want to advance the teaching of the Church. The Church is also changing, evolving with the times: LGBTQ+ people are part of creation and are loved by God, and we are challenged to fight against discrimination. »
“The Church may be slower in some things, but it’s a development happening everywhere. Just a few years ago, most companies would not have accepted openly gay directors.
When the interviewer said that no company defines homosexuality as a sin in their bylaws, Marx said, “What’s up with you and sin all the time? It has to be about the quality of relationships. This question has not been sufficiently discussed by some in the Church, you are right.
“But sin is turning away from God, from the Gospel, and you can’t blame that on all people who live homosexually and, on top of that, say, get away from them.”
Marx was also asked if he had ever blessed a same-sex couple.
He replied, “A few years ago in Los Angeles, after a service where I preached on unity and diversity, two people came up to me and asked for my blessing. I did it. It wasn’t a wedding ceremony, after all. We cannot offer the sacrament of marriage.
The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed in March 2021 that the Catholic Church does not have the authority to bless same-sex unions.
The Vatican statement, released with the approval of Pope Francis, sparked protests across the German-speaking Catholic world.
Several bishops expressed support for same-sex couple blessings, while churches displayed LGBT pride flags and a group of more than 200 theology professors signed a statement criticizing the Vatican.
Priests and pastoral workers across Germany staged a day of protest last May in which they held blessing ceremonies attended by same-sex couples.
Marx’s interviewer at one point suggested that the cardinal himself had “no sexuality.”
“Of course I am – like everyone else – a sexual person,” the 68-year-old Church leader said. “I also have a sexuality, even if I’m not in a relationship.”
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