News broke over the weekend that German Cardinal Marx had opened the door to Catholic blessings of same sex unions.
It was reported here by the Catholic News Agency, and was picked up by CRUX and other news outlets. The news spread pretty quickly and I commented on it on Saturday.
However, as usual, such stories have another side to them and I was alerted by a reader in England that he listened to the interview with Cardinal Marx, and being a German speaker, he contested the veracity of the report in Catholic News Agency. Another German speaker confirmed his opinion.
The quote in question is this:
The specific liturgical form that blessings – or other forms of “encouragement” – should take is a quite different question, the Munich archbishop continued, and one that requires further careful consideration.
Asked whether he really was saying that he “could imagine a way to bless homosexual couples in the Catholic Church,” Marx answered, “yes” – adding however, that there could be “no general solutions.”
“It’s about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies in other areas as well, which we can not regulate, where we have no sets of rules.”
The decision should be made by “the pastor on the ground, and the individual under pastoral care” said Marx, reiterating that, in his view, “there are things that can not be regulated.”
That certainly sounds like the Cardinal is saying “Yes” to the blessing of same sex unions, but the German speakers said reading his “Yes” as a clear affirmation is to misunderstand the German language where “Jah” is often used not simply as an affirmation, but merely as an interjection to move the conversation on the way, in the midst of a conversation we might say, “Yeah, but…”
So what conclusions do we draw from this?
My first question is why a Cardinal of the Catholic Church finds it so difficult to state clearly and compassionately the teaching of the Catholic faith? He says “there are no general solutions”. But there are. Sexual activity is only licit between one man and one woman who are validly married. That is a general solution.
Surely when asked if gay people can have their unions blessed by a priest the answer is, “This is impossible because a priest cannot bless what God does not bless. This would be a lie. However, a person who experiences same sex attraction is not rejected by the church. We welcome all with love and acceptance and invite all to follow Jesus Christ the world’s Redeemer in the narrow way that leads to life–the way of self discipline, chastity, faith and service.”
Jesus said, “Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.”
Cardinal Marx and other progressives say, “Well, yeah. Maybe but not quite, but perhaps, and it could be under certain circumstances that we may be able to allow this which is not allowed but that does not mean we are changing our teaching but maybe we are in a sense it could be that on the other hand…”
This problem stems from the larger issue in the Catholic Church today which can be called “Parolin’s Paradigm”. The Cardinal Secretary of state calls for a “new paradigm” in the church which demands that we pay more attention to the individual circumstances of a pastoral situation than to the timeless, objective principles of morality–principles revealed by God in Sacred Scripture and by the Lord Jesus himself. Parolin is correct that this “new paradigm” originated in the Pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Letitia.
Edward Pentin reports here on how this “new paradigm” is used to push a change in interpretation on . the church’s teaching on artificial contraception.
In a book published last year entitled Amoris Laetitia: A Turning Point for Moral Theology, edited by Stephan Goertz and Caroline Witting, it is argued that Amoris Laetitia represents a paradigm shift for all moral theology and especially in interpreting Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae.
The foreword to the Italian edition was written by the president of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences, Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, who is also on the board of governors of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Proponents of such a change refer to Amoris Laetitia‘s stress on the objective relevance of extenuating circumstances, the subjective conscience and discernment to allow some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion and apply it to allowing use of artificial contraception in some cases.
At a talk last month at the Pontifical Gregorian University, moral theologian Father Maurizio Chiodi, who presented the Goertz and Witting book at the university, similarly suggested that Amoris Laetitia opened the way for a new interpretation of Humanae Vitae to allow artificial contraception, saying some circumstances “require” it. Father Chiodi is also a new member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Why is this important? Now we’re getting down to the meat and potatoes.
This is important, not simply for the effect it has on questions of divorce and re-marriage or the acceptance of homosexual people or artificial contraception.
Beneath Cardinal Marx’s wishy washy words is Cardinal Parolin’s “new paradigm” and although he calls it a “new paradigm” there’s really nothing new about it. It is situational ethics, and that’s been around for a long, long time.
In fact, it is as old as the Garden of Eden.
What was the conversation in the Garden of Eden? God gave a clear and unambiguous command, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or you shall surely die.”
The Father of Lies came along and engaged Adam and Eve in dialogue. He undermined God’s command with relativism and said first of all, “You shall not surely die!” No doubt he added soothing words like, “God is merciful. You know how he loves you! Do you really think he would kill you?”
Then he saw the good that would come from disobedience: “You will have the same knowledge that God has and this will make you happy!” No doubt part of the conversation was, “This talk of dying from eating the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is a metaphorical, poetic way of speaking and it is beautiful, but he did not mean that you would literally die!”
This is always what happens when the clear commandments of God are set aside in favor of the individual situation. The result is disobedience disguised as freedom.
In my first posting on Cardinal Marx I joked that he had joined the Anglican Church. In fact, hist relativism is exactly like the double speak which one constantly heard in the Anglican Church, and it is a sure sign that the old deceiver is at work. He likes nothing better than wishy washy gobbledegook language.
At the end of the day we can ask, “Does Cardinal Marx approve of the blessing of same sex unions or not?” The problem is not only that the question has come up at all, but that the Cardinal has allowed ambiguity to take the place of a clear teaching, and this ambiguity is not a mistake, nor is it simply the verbal bumblings of an incompetent communicator.
It is the new paradigm.