the German Church challenges Rome

the German Church challenges Rome
the German Church challenges Rome

It thundered so much that it rained. With a move as unexpected as it is surprising Reinhard Marx, the most powerful archbishop of Munich and member of the Council of Cardinals, launched the gauntlet towards Rome and, automatically, towards Pope Francis in order not to stop the path of reforms initiated in Germany by progressive Catholics. On the plate Marx put his (voluntary) resignation justifying this dramatic passage as an indictment of the entire system for how abuses have been handled up to now. In a letter made public yesterday – with the authorization of Francis whom he met two weeks ago – Marx spoke explicitly of a “catastrophe”, of a common “failure” and of a Church that (at least in Germany) would have reached a “dead end” . Virtually the terminus.

Vatican, “The Catholic Church is at a standstill”: Cardinal Marx offers his resignation to the Pope

Church, the Supreme Court to the Vatican: “You have to pay the Tari”. The Capitol wins the controversy


The consequences of this gesture are currently unpredictable because they could constitute the antechamber of a schism although Marx certainly does not have the stature of Luther. What he asks and speaks for is a detachment from the doctrinal rigidities of Rome. It is no coincidence that yesterday, in the Vatican, there were those who remembered one of his cryptic words that during the synod on the Family, he repeated in the inner circles: “The Church in Germany cannot always be a branch of Rome”.

The fact is that for over two years, the rich German Church, the main financing of the Holy See – has been in turmoil, shaken internally between those who are in favor of giving space to reforms and those who, on the contrary, are opposed to upset doctrine. The Committee of Catholic laity, a weight of ninety, would like to arrive in a short time to the marriage of priests, to the female priesthood, to inter-communion with Lutherans, to the transparent management of finances but, above all, to establish once and for all the responsibilities of the past. of the bishops in the devastating handling of abuses. The latter is a theme that remains taboo in Rome. Whoever touches dies. And so despite the approval of new anti-pedophile rules and despite the regulatory updates (the last one made a few days ago with the revision of Book VI of the Canon Code) the homogeneous application of the rigorous laws in many areas of the world is still running water . It is often subordinated to the temptation of episcopal conferences to protect the system more than the victims.

Consequently, things are not proceeding as they should. In Italy, for example, the management of abuses still remains incomplete. Some dioceses, such as that of Reggio Emilia or Bolzano for example – advance quickly while in other cases the situation remains opaque: just look at the latest case that came to the news. In Piazza Armerina it is (only) thanks to the police that a pedophile priest was found and sent to prison. The bishop had preferred to transfer him to a northern diocese (in contact with minors) rather than subject him to a canonical process, removing his priestly habit.

Church, CEI and reforms: no celibacy of priests and female priesthood


In Germany the focus on the fight against pedophilia – also thanks to an inflexible public opinion – remains very high. However, an episode recently sparked controversy again. In the diocese of Cologne, Cardinal Woelki was accused for refusing to publish the list of priests condemned in the past. In the end, the Pope had to send inspectors on the spot. Marx specified: «I want to take responsibility for what has happened in the Church, which should be the place of healing and hope». One way to keep Rome in hand and also on the other issues of the reform.


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