Tuesday, November 26, 2013

German bishops to go forward with proposal to reinstate divorced people

Religión Digital (English translation by Rebel Girl)
November 26, 2013

The German Catholic bishops plan to continue with a proposed reform to reinstate the faithful who are divorced and remarried despite the contrary position expressed by the prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Müller, as Gebhard Fürst, Bishop of Stuttgart, said this weekend.

Fürst stressed during a meeting with the laity that the bishops had already made a draft of reforms and would be seeking approval for them at their March plenary.

Readmitting remarried Catholics into the Church is a pressing issue for Pope Francis, who convened a special synod of bishops for October in order to consider ways to carry out that reform despite Catholicism's rejection of divorce.

Fürst was the most explicit of several German bishops who rejected the position of Archbishop Gerhard Müller, director of the Vatican doctrinal office, who last month ruled out any change after the Archdiocese of Freiburg divulged its proposals.

"We want to adopt new guidelines in our plenary in March," Fürst told the Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken ("Central Committee of German Catholics"), an influential group of lay faithful, Saturday in Bonn.

Catholics who divorce and remarry in a civil ceremony are prohibited from receiving communion under Vatican doctrine that applies throughout the Church. Many of them see the move as a sign of rejection and turn away from the faith.

Fürst said that complaint was one of the most frequent German bishops have heard since they launched an initiative to consult the faithful after a wave of revelations in 2010 about sexual abuse of minors by priests.

"Expectations (of reform) are very great, and the impatience and anger are even greater," said the prelate, adding that a group of bishops has been discussing the issue since then.

The Pope referred to the subject at a press conference on his return trip from Brazil in July, saying the Church had to review its position on marriages that have ended and that it would do so at the synod of bishops next year.

Catholicism says that marriage is indissoluble and can only be terminated if it is annulled, i.e. the Church determines that the conditions of marriage such as free will or psychological maturity did not exist at the time of marriage.

The Archdiocese of Freiburg, in southwestern Germany, released guidelines last month that stated that a priest can readmit divorced and remarried people to the sacraments if they prove their faith and commitment to the new union.

When the Vatican's doctrinal chief ordered Freiburg to withdraw the guidelines, the Cardinal of Munich Reinhard Marx -- one of the eight advisers to the Pope -- said he "could not end the discussion" and that the debate ought to continue "on a broader scale."

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