Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich-Freising, Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference and Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (ComECE), was well aware that with his “yes” to blessings of homosexual couples, he had crossed a red line.
In contrast to the proposal of Bishop Franz-Josef Bode at the beginning of the year, according to Marx’s view, there should be no general regulation. Rather, it should be checked in the parishes themselves, whether such blessings “in individual cases” may be possible.
But this limitation is a mere tactical window dressing. Cardinal Marx paves the way for any progressivist parish priest to make such blessings without having to justify himself theologically with a document and exposing himself to criticism. Whether different arrangements are made from parish to parish does not change the fact that Cardinal Marx considers (practiced) homosexuality to be harmless, at least under certain conditions.
With this step, Cardinal Marx basically intends to found a new Church. For the following reasons:
- Catholic sexual morality clearly states that the sexual act is morally licit only within a validly contracted marriage between a man and a woman. A Catholic is required to agree to this principle, even if he does not comply with it. With the de facto legalization of practiced homosexuality by Cardinal Marx, this principle is cancelled, in general and not only with regard to homosexuality. The binding Catholic sexual morality is being (largely) abolished by Cardinal Marx. Therefore, a Church that follows Cardinal Marx’s instructions would no longer be a Catholic but a new church.
- Whether blessings for homosexual couples take place or not should be made at the local level, i.e. in the parishes. But because the admission of these blessings implies a completely new moral theology, different parishes would have different moral theologies. The moral teaching is derived from the Faith. Marx’s acceptance of homosexual blessings leads to a condition where different “Catholic” parishes would follow a different faith and a different morality, which is not possible from the Catholic point of view. The unity of the Church would obviously be destroyed at parish level.
- If one goes to the level of the Universal Church, it becomes even more obvious that Marx’s proposal is anti-Catholic. Does he believe that other bishops or bishops’ conferences will follow his suggestion? Probably not. By adopting a new morality, a new faith, and new rites for the blessings, (at least part of) the Catholic Church in Germany would be separated from the ecclesial world community.
- Cardinal Marx still owes an explanation as how he wants to make his project attractive to the so-called “mother-tongue” Catholics. These are the Catholics with a migration background, i.e., Poles, Croats, Portuguese, etc. that live in Germany. They are not only more conservative than the average Catholic of German descent, but in many places, specially big cities, they already make up the majority of the faithful.
One can hardly imagine that Cardinal Marx did not think about the above mentioned points in moral-theological and ecclesiological terms.
Most likely, these objections do not bother him because he is already seeking to form a new kind of Church. This was made clear in an interview in early 2015 with the American journal of the Jesuits, America.
In that interview, Cardinal Marx shows understanding for homosexual partnerships, for “wild marriages”, for remarried divorcees, and for the demands to change the doctrine of the sacraments. Already at that time it was obvious that Cardinal Marx sought a comprehensive reform of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.
In his interview with America, Cardinal Marx even goes much further.
He advocates also a declerization of power at the Roman Curia. Lay people should assume important ministries, even presidencies of councils, congregations (i.e., the Vatican ministries) and other administrative units. Women should be favored as part of these structural reforms. It must finally be recognized that one of the “signs of the times” is the “emancipation of women.” The Church must now accomplish this. (The term “emancipation of women” comes from the conceptual arsenal of left-wing social policy and is based on the ideology of the class struggle.)
These statements make it clear that the Church is not perceived by the liberal reform Catholics primarily as the guardian of the truth, but as a meeting place where all people, no matter what they believe in, gather. This can only work, if the Church adapts herself to the spirit of the times and has borders as open as possible. The boundaries between Catholic and non-Catholic are blurred as much as possible (but not so much that it could jeopardize Church Tax revenues). To achieve this a weakening of the priestly and episcopal ministry is necessary.
In such a Church, truth or fidelity to the Gospels can not be at the center of attention. That is not explicitly stated in the interview, but that is the inevitable consequence. For the truth to be armed against constant attacks, it must be hierarchically constructed on the basis of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Should this process of deformation of the Church continue long enough, an informal web of dioceses and parishes would emerge without any definite territorial boundaries, without defined teachings and without defined faith. Pseudo-democratic bodies and charismatic figures would dictate a way of life that wiould replace moral teachings and which is no longer bound to fixed religious truths. The Church would then not look much different from the utopian post-structuralist society of the sixty-eight revolutionaries.
While reading the news that Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the president of the German Bishops’ Conference and one of the nine members of Council of Cardinal Advisers, had recently “declared that, in his view, Catholic priests can conduct blessing ceremonies for homosexual couples,” a couple of things came to mind.
First, a short message I received in 2014 from someone who was very familiar with the daily workings of the Vatican and had first-hand experience with many of the key cardinals, bishops, and other “players” in Rome. The gist of the note was simple: those clerics with a pro-homosexual agenda see this pontificate as “their chance” to clear the way for acceptance of homosexuality as not only normal, but even good and healthy. And they will do everything they can to make such acceptance a reality. In pondering that sad fact, one recalls the words of then-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in 2005, in his meditation on the Ninth Station of the Cross: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him!”
Secondly, I recalled my April 2014 editorial titled “Welcome to the Reign of ‘Gay’,” in which I recounted my experience in the 1990s working in Portland, Oregon, with some homosexual men, one of whom insisted, “We don’t have any interest in being married. We just want the same civil rights. Anyone who thinks that gays will try to change marriage is paranoid and stupid.” That, in short, is a howler; in fact, those of us who thought homosexuals really were trying to “change marriage” were far more prophetic than paranoid, and much more perceptive than stupid. And it should be emphasized that prophecy, at least in biblical terms, is not so much the divining of specific events as it is following the internal logic of good and evil actions and intentions to their inescapable ends.
Now, back to the report on Cardinal Marx:
Cardinal Reinhard Marx told the Bavarian State Broadcasting’s radio service that “there can be no rules” about this question. Rather, the decision of whether a homosexual union should receive the Church’s blessing should be up to “a priest or pastoral worker” and made in each individual case, the German prelate stated.
Notice that, according to the report, the blessing is not of a person but of a “homosexual union”. Of course, in the eyes of the Church, natural law, and common sense, there is no such thing. As Cardinal Ratzinger, when Prefect of the CDF, stated in the 1986 Letter to the bishops on the pastoral care of homosexual persons:
To chose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent. (Emphasis added)
There is also the Catechism, which continues to put matters rather forthrightly, despite those who would like to rewrite it:
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. (CCC, 2357)
Since homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, sterile by their very nature, and contrary to sexual complementarity, they cannot result in “unions”. Period. Thus, right from the start, Cardinal Marx begins by assuming and embracing a falsehood—one that is not just about sexual activity but about what it means to be human. After all, the big battle of our time, in so many ways, is anthropological, as St. John Paul II constantly emphasized. Moving on:
Speaking on Feb. 3, on the occasion of his 10th anniversary as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Marx was asked why “the Church does not always move forward when it comes to demands from some Catholics about, for instance, the ordination of female deacons, the blessing of homosexual couples, or the abolition of compulsory [priestly] celibacy.”
The question is misleading, perhaps intentionally so, because it confuses matters of discipline with matters of doctrine and morals. Married men are allowed to be priests in the Eastern Churches (and some are allowed in the West, in certain cases); but no Catholic can commit homosexual acts and say in truth and good conscience, “This is good and morally upright.” And yes, again, that is the clear implication of what Cardinal Marx says, if one follows the simple logic involved: only that which is good and proper can be blessed, so to bless a homosexual “union” is to say, quite openly, that it is good and proper.
Marx said that, for him, the important question to be asked regards how “the Church can meet the challenges posed by the new circumstances of life today – but also by new insights, of course,” particularly concerning pastoral care.
Describing this as a “fundamental orientation” emphasized by Pope Francis, Marx called for the Church to take “the situation of the individual, … their life-story, their biography, … their relationships” more seriously and accompany them, as individuals accordingly.
Ever since the two Synods of 2014 and 2015, it has been obvious many in the Church think that at some point in 2013 or so modern life suddenly became so complex, so complicated, and so bewildering in its “newness” and “circumstances” that suddenly many of the Church’s teachings on morality, sexuality, and marriage had to be either reconsidered or shelved altogether. That was bad enough, but then we are told, in various ways, that the Church must look to the secular world—a world almost entirely bereft of sanity, sensibility, humility, propriety, or any sense of objective telos—for answers! It’s as if a man who is struggling with his marriage vows suddenly hits upon a novel solution: he will seek the advice of Charlie Sheen! What could go wrong? The Church, once said to be “an expert in humanity,” is now supposed to accept being a dumb disciple sitting at the feet of an ideological giant that preaches the gospel of the dictatorship of relativism—a dictatorship that builds a culture of death and actively promotes the reign of gay. It boggles the mind.
Marx has recently called for an individualized approach to pastoral care, which, he has said, is neither subject to general regulations nor is it relativism.
Such “closer pastoral care” must also apply to homosexuals, Cardinal Marx told the Bavarian State Broadcaster: “And one must also encourage priests and pastoral workers to give people in concrete situations encouragement. I do not really see any problems there.”
As one commentator at CWR dryly remarked: “It must be exhausting to have to juggle so many ‘concrete situations’ at once.” With so much juggling going on, one can be forgiven for thinking he’s watching a circus. It is readily evident that Marx and Company, as they demonstrated at the Synods and beyond, want to do away with objective norms that apply to all situations, as well as the traditional belief there are, in fact, intrinsic evils. Is it any coincidence that just this past week a German moral theologian who is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Life, proposed that the term “intrinsically evil” is “outdated”? It is, I am convinced, just the latest attempt to undermine the clear moral teachings of the Church, especially as articulated by St. John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor:
Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature “incapable of being ordered” to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed “intrinsically evil” (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that “there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object”. (VS, 80)
In other words, no matter how sincere or likable a person might be, the intrinsic nature of certain acts he commits cannot be dismissed or denied. And, by the way, don’t miss the footnote (#131) given by St. John Paul II, which is a citation from Pope Paul VI, who stated in 1967, not long before issuing Humanae Vitae:
Far be it from Christians to be led to embrace another opinion, as if the Council taught that nowadays some things are permitted which the Church had previously declared intrinsically evil. Who does not see in this the rise of a depraved moral relativism, one that clearly endangers the Church’s entire doctrinal heritage?
This moral relativism is especially evident in the realm of sexual morality. And Cardinal Ratzinger, in 1986, was mindful of this fact, stating:
In the discussion which followed the publication of the  Declaration [on sexual ethics], however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. (emphasis added)
But Cardinal Marx, who is one of Pope Francis’ close advisers, thinks “homosexual unions” are neutral or even good. And that they somehow fall into a category beyond rules, solutions, regulations, which is simply his way of avoiding words such as “truth” and “morality” and “reality”:
Asked whether he really was saying that he “could imagine a way to bless homosexual couples in the Catholic Church,” Marx answered, “yes” – adding however, that there could be “no general solutions.”
“It’s about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies in other areas as well, which we can not regulate, where we have no sets of rules.”
Ah, “other areas”. And “no rules.” Well, why even bother being Catholic? Seriously: why? If what was once intrinsically evil is now to be blessed, and there are no objective rules or truths that apply to all situations and people (save, perhaps, truths about global warming, immigration, and the “terrorism of gossip”), and everything is now “pastoral” and thus freed from any regulation or rules, why bother?
Fortunately, what Cardinal Marx says is nonsensical. Actually, it is far worse than nonsensical: it is falsehood parading as tolerance and love. It is a destructive lie. And now, once again, the ball is in Francis’ court, just as the lie comes from one who spends much time in that same court. Put another way, Cardinal Marx is spreading false news; he is going contrary to the Good News. What now?