The really sad thing is that I was quite undecided whether I should post this translation of parts of a speech given by Cardinal Marx last Wednesday at the Synod. A while ago, such an explicit argument for cohabitation, contraception and second* “marriages” might have been shocking, but now? One is only rather astonished that there is no mentioning of homosexuals.

Accentuations by me.

Church marriage preparation and support must not be determined by a moral perfectionism. Neither must there be a pastoral ministry of “all or nothing”. It rather matters to take a differentiated view of people’s various situations in life and experiences in love. We should look less at that in life which does (not yet) succeed or maybe even thoroughly fails. It is generally not the raised finger but the extended hand that motivates people to progress on the path of holiness. […]

[…] We have to give more room in our pastoral ministry to the decisions of conscience of engaged and married couples. It is certainly the task of the Church to educate the conscience of the faithful, but the judgement of conscience of each person cannot be replaced. This is particularly true for situations in which the partners have to make a decision in a conflict of values, for example when openness for the conception of children and protection of marital and family life get into conflict with each other.

Regarding civilly divorced and remarried faithful who actively participate in parish life, many faithful ask why the Church, without exception, refuses them participation in sacramental communion. Many people in our parishes cannot understand, how it is possible to belong to the full communion of the Church and, at the same time, be excluded from the sacrament of Penance and of the Eucharist. The reason given is that civilly divorced and remarried faithful objectively continuously live in adultery that constitutes a contradiction to that which is signified by the Eucharist, the faithfulness of Christ to his Church. But does this answer do justice to the situation of the persons concerned? And is it imperative from a theology of the sacraments? Can people who are seen to be in a state of grave sin really feel that the fully belong to us?

Someone who, after a failure of their marriage, has contracted a new civil marriage, from which often children have sprung, has contracted a new moral duty  that he or she cannot break without becoming guilty again. Even if a resumption of the relationship was possible – generally it is impossible – this person is in an objective moral dilemma, from which there is no clear moral theological escape. The advice to refrain from sexual acts in the new relationship seems not only unrealistic [O_o  Notburga] to many. It is also questionable if sexual acts can be judged isolated from the circumstances of life. Can we, without exception, assess sexual acts in a second civil marriage as adultery? Independently from the specific situation?


On the theological groundwork laid by the Second Vatican Council, we should therefore seriously consider the possibility – always for the specific case, and not in a generalizing way [Of course not, perish the thought! Notbuga] – to admit the civilly divorced and remarried faithful to the sacrament of Penance and Communion, if the life together in the canonically valid marriage has definitely failed and the marriage cannot be annulled, if the duties stemming from this marriage have been resolved, the guilt in the failure of the marital union has been repented and the honest will exists to live the second civil marriage in faith and to bring up the children in the faith.

* Actually, I have been quite concerned about the lack of inclusion in all these discussions. What about those in a third, or a forth “civil marriage”?