|"I will not destroy Sodom for the sake of ten righteous men."|
[Statement of Bishop Stefan Oster, Diocese of Passau, Germany, on his Facebook concerning the recent statement of the largest German Catholic lay organization ZdK, May 12, 2015:]
Here are some thoughts as an orientation concerning a problematic declaration – in my eyes – of the Central Committee of German Catholics [ZdK] made public this past weekend:[...]
If we were to consider the Church's Faith as it has been lived and shared until now and specifically concerning these topics [of marriage, sexuality and the family], then the approval of the requests made by the ZdK would mean a dramatic change of much that has been heretofore held to be valid concerning marriage and human sexuality. The Church believes – because of the Revelation that was given to her – that lived sexual practice has its legitimate place only within a marriage between a man and a woman, both of whom are open to the procreation of life and both of whom have made a bond that is to last until the death of one of the spouses. […] this bond is called a Sacrament, and it is strengthened with the help of God's own explicit promise to be the third part in this bond vowed between the two; He is the One Who binds this relationship, Who sanctifies it, makes it indissoluble and Who is also, again and again, the Source of Salvation for them.
Additionally, from my knowledge, in view of this vantage point of Holy Scripture, any other form of fully exercised sexual practice outside of marriage is either fornication or adultery – including, in part, the announcement of very dramatic consequences that are to come for those who choose to partake in it [this sin]. The Church's tradition has always shared and assimilated this judgment of Holy Scripture, even if not simply applied in a manner that is undifferentiated. That a consideration of the individual case is always important for our forming any judgment, has been self-evident for a long time. The experience that there exist failures in human relationships, and that the people who thus fail also need pastoral care and attention in a special way, is also self-evident for the Church.[…]
Furthermore: If one proposes – on the basis of mere “values” – to perform liturgical blessings for all kinds of relationships which are not sacramental marriages, I wonder: Why only for two [persons]? If, for example, three or more people of the same sex or of the opposite sex share the same bed, on the one hand, and intend to form a stable and nourishing realm for children on the other hand; why should one not also bless such a relationship? There are also “values” to be found in it? […] With this example, we can see that a criterion of mere “values” cannot give a solid reasoning for the blessing of exclusive relationships between two people, in whatsoever type of constellation. [...]
The Faith and Scripture are not based primarily upon values, but upon Revelation, upon Christ Himself. He is not a “value,” but the Word of God Himself. He is He who loves every man as a person, who touches men, frees them and enables them to live a different life, and especially to live a life in Love and Loyalty, which man does not have by himself, but only from Him. […]
To refer to the “signs of the time” is in my view no answer for these questions. Because, who determines now what are the signs, and why they should call out for novelties in this area [of marriage and the family]? In my view, it is especially this area that shows how much man has remained the same over time. And it is exactly this area that had been contested already at the time of the Early Church – otherwise the view of Jesus would not have been expressed so clearly in Holy Scripture. [...]
The Central Committee [the ZdK], with its [recent] declaration, is in my view in the course of leaving behind very essential aspects of the Biblical image of man and the Biblical understanding of Revelation. And it is very troubling for me that it [the ZdK] goes along this path obviously together with the majority of its own representatives. [...]
The fact that many Catholics who – in view of texts like this one – do not any more consider themselves represented by the ZdK, does not mean that they can be blamed for it.
[A Letter from Five German Bishops in support of Bishop Stefan Oster, as published on Bishop Oster's Facebook, May 16, 2015:]
Most Reverend Bishop Oster, dear Brother, Stefan,
We thank you for your statement concerning the recent public document “To Build Bridges Between the Teaching and Life Reality – Family and the Church in the World of Today,” which the ZdK formally approved during its Spring Plenary Assembly. We follow and wholeheartedly support your arguments on the teaching about the Christian view of man: especially with respect to the meaning of femininity and masculinity, and thus also especially with respect to the meaning of Christian Marriage, since they [these arguments] are deeply rooted in the teaching of Jesus Himself in Holy Scripture and in the Tradition of the Church.
Meanwhile, we live in Germany, in a strongly secularized society. This circumstance should not discourage us nor lead us to seek an adaptation to the secular mainstream, but it should make us see it as a chance now to re-discover the uniqueness of the Christian vocation [hence mission]in the world.
An indispensable precondition for this [rediscovered vocation] is an open-hearted and loyal proclamation of the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels and the discovery of the relationship with Him as providing true richness for our life, as you have done it in your own response.
Therefore, we are convinced that many faithful are also extraordinarily grateful to you for your clear words.
United in our brotherly bond, we greet you, we the bishops of:
Augsburg: Dr. Konrad ZdarsaEichstätt: Gregor M. Hanke OSBGörlitz: Wolfgang IpoltRegensburg: Dr. Rudolf VoderholzerWürzburg: Dr. Friedhelm Hofmann
[Translations: Dr. Maike Hickson]