Saturday, May 9, 2015
To Build Bridges between Teaching and the Reality of Life – Family and Church in the World of Today
Plenary Assembly on May 8 and 9, 2015 in Würzburg [Germany]
Declaration of the Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (Central Committee of the German Catholics) in preparation for the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican [October] 2015
The Central Committee of the German Catholics (ZdK) [Rorate note: the oldest, main and most influential group of German Catholics, founded under a different name in 1848 and responsible for the famous Katholikentage, Catholic Days] welcomes the call of Pope Francis to all the faithful to make a statement about the situation of the family in the Church and in the world of today. The world-wide reactions to this call will have to be put together during the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the fall of 2015. The ZdK is aware of the universal Church's understanding of the context for the discussion of the topic and pays special attention to its own regional considerations.
With the following four central messages, the ZdK would like to make a contribution to the debate, in light of the preparation of the consultations for the XIV General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; it would thus like to invite a discussion about its following statements and to seek allies for the upcoming challenges.
1) We regard the sacramental marriage as the model for a life-long bond as a promise for a successful life with the help of God. We confess this to be the model of life and we encourage couples to make such a marital promise and to found a family. At the same time, we respect other forms of cohabitation in which important values are realized: reliable responsibility for one another; fidelity in that relationship; and a commitment to walk together the path [sic].
2) As a church in the world, the ZdK works in a special way for a strengthening and for a promotion of marriage and the family in our society and in the state. By family, we mean also the different non-marital forms of reliably lived partnerships and of generational responsibility which make a large contribution to the societal solidarity and which ought to be treated justly.
3) The Church's teaching has to be further developed with the help of a dialogue with the faithful, and with an attentiveness to their respective life realities. As a church which is attentive to men, their sorrows and hopes, we are called to engage with confidence the given society of today with all its manifold, socially accepted forms of living, and to become ourselves bridge-builders between practice and teaching.
4) In our church [in Germany], we support a strong pastoral care for marriage and the family, which needs, locally, a convincing personal offer [of specific and special care], also in changing pastoral structures.
In detail, this means that:
In other forms of communal living, as well, there are to be found values which signify a marriage as a covenant between God and men: an unbreakable [sic] “yes” to the other person, the constant readiness to reconcile, as well as the perspective upon a fruitful relationship in exchanging the gifts of different persons.
These forms of living and family [also] have to be honored, even if they are not to be found in the form of the sacramental marriage. We think here of enduring partnerships [cohabitation], civil marriages, as well as civilly registered partnerships [i.e., homosexual unions].
It is important to respect that which people are able to contribute to their relationships. We need to change our point of view, departing from always looking at that which is missing, and moving, instead, toward an attentiveness to other very different forms of living together and the values that are lived in them. […]
We notice a tension and often a large discrepancy between the statements of the Magisterium about marriage and the family, and, on the other hand, the life realities of the faithful which are characterized by a plurality of family forms. […]
It is necessary to build bridges between the teaching of the Church about marriage and the family and the current life realities of the faithful, namely with the help of:
- a respect for the cohabitation in loyal, non-marital partnerships;
- a re-evaluation of the methods of artificial birth control, since in no other area of life can there be found a similarly large discrepancy between the Magisterium and the personal conscientious decisions made in daily life, also by most faithful Catholics;
- a further development of liturgical forms, especially of blessings for same-sex partnerships, new partnerships of divorcees, and for important life-changing decisions [?] within families;
- an integration into the life of the Church of spouses who now live in a second marriage after a divorce, and also their admittance to the Sacraments after a sound decision of conscience;
- the unconditional acceptance of the cohabitation of loyal same-sex partnerships, and a clear attitude opposed to those current exclusions and devaluations of homosexual persons;
Concretely, this means for our church [...]
- to perceive the pastoral change that Pope Francis has called for, both as an encouragement and as a chance for the Bishops' Conferences to develop pastoral walking paths concerning marriage and the family which are appropriate and theologically responsible. When Pope Francis asked all Catholics, women and men alike, to make proposals concerning the “vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the world of today,” he entered a courageous path. The XIV General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops – to be held in October of 2015 in Rome – explicitly is to include therein the Sense of Faith of the whole People of God. Now it is the task of the Bishops to adopt and follow up on this Sensus Fidelium. As the voice of the German female and male Catholics, the ZdK assimilates the intention of Pope Francis and wants to contribute, so as to lay a foundation for a fruitful debate. It is now important to be able to build bridges between the teaching of the Church on marriage and the family, and the current life realities of the faithful.
Passed by the General Assembly of the ZdK on 9 May, 2015
Is the ZdK Already Planning Ahead for the Time After the Synod?
Mathias von Gersdorff
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
The recent statement by the “Central Committee of the German Catholics” (ZdK) concerning the the Family Synod in the Vatican in October of 2015 raises many questions.
This daring statement contains the request for the blessing of same-sex partnerships, for a moral approval of artificial contraceptives, and for a reevaluation of non-marital partnerships and more.
With its claims, the “Central Committee” goes now much further than that which Cardinal Walter Kasper had proposed in his speech to the Consistory at the beginning of 2014. Kasper had “only” proposed to admit remarried divorcees to Holy Communion, and this under certain conditions.
The speech of Kasper was taken as an occasion by left-wing Catholics to demand the abandonment altogether of the Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality.
But the statement of the ZdK came at a very awkward time.
Since the (small) Synod of October, 2014, there has arisen a substantial resistance against these liberal claims.
Numerous Cardinals and Bishops from all over the world have raised their voices, in order to defend the Catholic teaching.
In the meantime, nearly all delegations of the Bishops' Conferences for the Synod in October have now been selected. None is as liberal as the German. None, except the German, supports unanimously the ideas of Cardinal Kasper concerning the pastoral approach to remarried divorcees.
This way, the German delegation has maneuvered itself into isolation.
In many countries, the disapproving criticism towards Germany grows. One accuses Marx and Co of stubbornness and a deficient Catholicity.
Then, just in this very moment, the ZdK comes along and adds to it [the provocation]: with grave consequences for the reputation of the German Catholicism in the world now.
At least in the current situation, such claims are raised that are not attainable.
As a final point, on 9 May 2015 at a conference [in Rome] for defenders of life, Cardinal Pell made it clear that the [upcoming advisory] Synod is not at all able [or allowed] to change Catholic Doctrine.
Therefore, it is fatal that some German Bishops are still making promises that they cannot keep. The last time, it was Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, one of the Germa n delegates, who did just that.
In view of this background, the recent statement of the ZdK seems to be almost a kind of blackmail as well as an invitation to schism.
Under theses circumstances, it would be desirable for a German Bishop to go now into the public and speak a word of orientation. [From the Mathias von Gersdorff Blog]
[Rorate translations by Dr Maike Hickson]