WASHINGTON (CNS) — German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising called for change in long-standing church tradition as the German bishops’ conference prepares for a workshop debate to “review” the issue of celibacy for priests.
In his homily at New Year’s Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Munich, Cardinal Marx said the church must, “in light of the failure” surrounding the clergy sex abuse crisis, modify tradition in response to changing modern times.
“I believe the hour has come to deeply commit ourselves to open the way of the church to renewal and reform,” Cardinal Marx said, according to an audio of the homily posted on the archdiocesan website. “Evolution in society and historical demands have made tasks and urgent need for renewal clear to see.”
The cardinal, who is president of the German bishops’ conference, said that current measures to address sex abuse are not enough without adapting church teachings. “Yes, matters are about development and improvement and prevention and independent reviews — but more is also demanded,” he said.
“I am certain that the great renewal impulse of the Second Vatican Council is not being truly led forward and understood in its depth. We must further work on that,” he said. “Further adaptations of church teachings are required.”
The cardinal’s statements coincide with plans to openly debate the issue of celibacy at the German bishops’ permanent council meeting in the spring. The bishops have said the workshop during the meeting is a direct response to the abuse crisis.
Despite the Vatican’s call for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops not to vote in November on several proposals for responding to the sexual abuse crisis because of a lack of time given the Vatican to study the proposals and potential conflicts with church law, the German bishops plan to host numerous ecclesiastical and secular professionals from various disciplines to analyze celibacy.
Pressure to end mandatory priestly celibacy has risen in Germany following the renewal of the sex abuse scandal last year. The history and purpose of priestly celibacy is now a hotly contested issue in Germany, as sexual freedom is a core principle of modern German culture.
Secular media outlets have advocated the abolition of celibacy saying it is an outdated practice. German Catholics also have become skeptical of celibacy because of the tremendous influence of Protestantism on Christianity in the country. Last November, the lay Central Committee of German Catholics has voted by a large majority to abolish mandatory celibacy for priests.
“Truth is not final. We can recognize it deeper in the shared path of the church,” Cardinal Marx said in his homily. He said he will take new stances on issues because it is his “duty as a priest and a bishop” to do so.
He added that Catholics must “leave behind categories like left and right, liberal and conservative and concentrate on the path of the Gospel in a concrete point in time.”
“Turn yourselves to a new thinking. To risk this thinking is important at the end of year and the beginning of a new year — not a flight into the rhetoric of the past,” he said.
“Naturally we stand in a great tradition — but this is not a complete tradition. It is a path into the future.”
In conclusion, Cardinal Marx said that 2019 will be filled with “unrest and opposition” within the church because of any proposed changes in church tradition, “but this new thinking is required.”
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I’m so disappointed in Pope Francis stating he does not want to make celibacy optional for priests. Why??
We all know that mandatory celibacy was put in for power and control over priests. Pope Francis was all for optional celibacy back in 2013.
Before the year 900 Roman Catholic priests were free to marry if they wished to. Jesus was unmarried, but that is because Jesus is God incarnate. He did not come in this world to save only his wife and family. He is our savior he came to save us all. Jesus never obliged his disciples to be celibate. On the contrary, they were married men with families, including our very first roman pope, St. Peter!
Blessing to Cardinal Marx … we will all be supporting him and all those bishops and priests fighting to bring in the church’s original roots of optional celibacy. It is way past time!! Shame on the Catholic Church for using mandatory celibacy for control and power over priests for centuries. By the end of the synod, God willing in October this year, we will win the victory of optional celibacy for all roman catholic clergy.
I liked what Cardinal Marx said about not getting stuck in liberal vs conservative thinking, being on the right or the left. Because there is such a need for priests and because places in the USA where our people are going without the Mass, I believe a married priesthood along side a celibate priesthood can be a real option.
Other parts of the universal church are without priest….Latin America and others. We know we have had married clergy in the past. Presently, there are different rites in our Roman Church who have married priest. We are just aware of our Roman tradition. Cardinal Marx is not the problem. The problem is how do we continue the Eucharist when there is a shortage of priests? There are places in Germany where there are no priests for Sunday Mass so the Church provides a Bible service. Let us continue to pray for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide the whole Church – the Universal Church.
“…plans to openly debate the issue of celibacy at the German bishops’ permanent council meeting in the spring. The bishops have said the workshop during the meeting is a direct response to the abuse crisis.”
Q: Not having a vow of celibacy is going to eliminate pedophilia in the clergy how? Eliminate pederasty of seminarians how?
“Secular media outlets have advocated the abolition of celibacy saying it is an outdated practice.”
Q: Secular press is relevant to Catholic doctrine/teachings on marriage and the family how?
“Naturally we stand in a great tradition — but this is not a complete tradition.”
Q: Does the Catholic Church stand just on tradition or the Word of God?
“Truth is not final. We can recognize it deeper in the shared path of the church,…He said he will take new stances on issues because it is his “duty as a priest and a bishop” to do so.”
Q: Is the good cardinal saying the truth is irrelevant? Maybe this is his way, and those of his ilk, of saying then-Cardinal Ratzinger got it wrong when he said, “The truth can only be discovered, not created.”
Are you kidding? Why is the orthodox church of Philadelphia reporting the liberal dissident statements of this Cardinal. He is part of the problem!