It is ironic that the German bishops have such a loud voice in trying to dictate policy for the universal Church. While raking in billions of dollars every year from government taxes, they have presided over the spiritual death of a once great Catholic nation. Weekly Mass attendance among Catholics has fallen from 22% to less than 10% in the past 25 years. Their solution, in the name of “mercy,” is to seek every accommodation with the culture instead of convicting it. Continuing to go their own way on communion for divorced and ‘remarried’ people, Cardinal Marx, the current president of the German bishops’ conference said last month that “We are not a branch of Rome. Each conference of bishops is responsible for pastoral care in its cultural context and must preach the Gospel in its own, original way. We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family here.” Your ancestral countryman, Martin Luther, would be proud of you. If you wait a couple of years you can celebrate the 500th anniversary of his 95 theses by nailing your pastoral care objections to the door of your own cathedral. Don’t worry if it’s a Sunday; the noise won’t bother anyone. And you do know that a national bishops’ conference has no actual magisterial authority, right?
But I’m not writing to throw mud at the usual suspects – Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Marx, and his predecessor at the bishops’ conference Archbishop Zollitch, among others. Rather, it’s good to recall that there are some great German shepherds out there. In addition to our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, German prelates Cardinal Müller and Cardinal Cordes have both spoken plainly against the direction that the bishops in their country are headed. Read about it here. A couple of gems:
Cardinal Müller – “The president of an episcopal conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and he does not have any particular magisterial authority due to this title.”
Cardinal Cordes – “The head of the German bishops’ conference certainly has some competence when it comes to a second edition of the hymnal or the changing of the pilgrim route to Altötting. But the president argues something entirely different.”
This is a very serious issue and we do not want Church doctrines played out in an accusatory back and forth through the media. But a piece of me can’t help thinking…You started it! Zing!