In the middle of very troubling statements coming from theologians and priests from Germany — such as Father Bernd Hagenkord, S.J., head of the German Branch of Radio Vatican, who just earned much criticism for his publishing of an article and a picture both promoting the homosexual agenda — it is encouraging to see that some important prelates of the Church are expressing their strong opposition to any liberalizing tendency with regard to the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, just gave an interview to the newspaper of the Diocese of Vienna, Austria, Der Sonntag (The Sunday) which was published on 15 July. In it, he warns the participants of the upcoming October Synod of Bishops on the Family not to foster the idea that the Canonical Process of the Declaration of Nullity could be turned into a “Catholic divorce,” thereby undermining the Sacrament of Matrimony and the indissolubility of marriage. He says:
First of all, we must say that an increase of the number of declarations of nullity cannot be a direct goal of the pastoral dealing with marriage: The priority is to support the faithful in their attempt to have success in their marriage and family lives. […] However, one may not misunderstand the canonically justified question whether at the moment of the wedding all the necessary conditions for a valid marriage were met on both sides as a form of “Catholic Divorce.”
While Cardinal Mueller stresses the importance of trying to help the sinners who do not live according to God’s Will to find their way back to God, he also insists that this must not be taken to mean a softening of the Catholic Church’s moral teaching: “But because of this [reaching out to sinners], we may not forget at all that the Gospel of Christ in its clarity and its beauty promises — and wants to give — every person the Grace to live according to God’s plan.” Mueller also reminds us that, without God, we cannot supernaturally do anything:
Before God, we are all poor, if we confess that we cannot do anything without God. And, at the same time, we are all rich, when we realize that we have received everything from Him, our being, our life, the capacity to love and to give, to take upon oneself the responsibility for others and, last but not least, the hope of fulfillment in God.
In this context, Mueller says that God will also help us in our difficulties in marriage and the family, with our receiving new strength from prayers and the Sacraments. “This way,” Cardinal Mueller says, “we are growing in the gift of persistence, of perseverance in the difficult hours of life and also of suffering — together and, at times, also from each other.” The Prefect describes how this way, with the help of God, “a mutual life history can become a path of maturing in love, and we shall thereby be made more and more similar to Christ Crucified and the Risen Christ.”
With these words, Cardinal Mueller once more shows us the way of Christ in dealing with the question of marriage, namely: the enduring love and loyalty in the midst of challenges which will bear good and loving fruit, unto eternal life.
The retired Cardinal and Church historian, Walter Cardinal Brandmueller, has also given another interview in Germany where he rebukes the liberalizing agenda among German bishops and thereby gives us once more a strong support in this serious struggle for the Faith. The interview is entitled “The Good Shepherd May Not Fear the Wolves” and it was published on 1 July in the German regional newspaper Rheinische Post. In this interview, Cardinal Brandmueller describes the danger of adapting to the current “political correctness” and “which to violate would entail risking a execution by the Media.” He continues:
On the other hand, we have the phenomenon of the dynamics of silence, into which the majority slips and which thus silently watches such an execution. Nobody will want to claim that such a conduct is worthy of a Christian, especially when dealing with fundamental questions concerning the teaching of faith and morals of the Gospel of Christ. For what purpose did we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation? And, did not the bishops at their consecration promise that they would proclaim faithfully the Gospel of Christ and would preserve, pure and entire, the Deposit of the Faith according to the Tradition as held by the Church, always and everywhere?
Cardinal Brandmueller, in his own characteristically courageous and trenchant language, also said that he sees in certain circles in the Church almost a “perverse lust for self-destruction,” for example, “by undermining the procreation of life in different ways and in putting into question the natural sexual identity of man and woman.” And he says: “In opposition to this, the Church can and must proclaim the Natural Moral Law which has been perfected by the Gospels and which is understandable for the man of good will. Thereby, the Church should not allow herself to be deflected by the [growing] resistance against her message.”
And, in his very encouraging words, this prince of the Church even calls for a “de-secularization” of the Church, meaning a form of thinking which “does not follow earthly-economical principles, but, rather, follows the truth of the Faith. Instead of preaching a ‘Christianity light’, we should have the courage to demand a program which is in firm contrast to the societal mainstream of today and to live out fully the contents of the Ten Commandments and Ethics of the New Testament. This alternative program once proposed to the morbid ancient world was then a successful program. It would prove to be attractive also again today.”
May these courageous prelates sustain their firm stance amidst this protracted fight for the Faith, and thereby strengthen all of us, especially in light of the upcoming Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the Family.