There is no shortage of people who will tell you that everything is hunky-dory in the Church and that the recent synod is just the somewhat ugly business of tasty sausage making made visible.
What they don’t tell you is how hard some are working to poison the sausage.
Over at The Spectator, Damian Thompson reports on the German Episcopal conference’s full court press to destroy both the Church’s and Jesus’ doctrine and practice on marriage. The German Episcopal conference produced a document in which they called the current teaching and practice on marriage ‘incomprehensible and unmerciful’ and a ‘scandal.’ Thus they demand change.
From this we can infer three things. 1. The German Church is acting as a united lobby – the ‘great majority’ are pushing for change. 2. When the Germans say that devout Catholics find the bar on Communion for divorcees ‘incomprehensible and unmerciful’, and a ‘scandal’, that means that Cardinal Marx and colleagues find them an incomprehensible scandal. I’m assuming that Marx chose those words himself; he has certainly put his name to them. 3. The German bishops plan to dominate – one is tempted to say hijack – the discussions over Communion for divorced people at the coming Synod.
Why the Germans? An article in the December 12 issue of the new Catholic Herald magazine (not online) by Jon Anderson, its specialist in European Catholic politics, helps explain. Mass attendance in Germany has fallen from 22 to 11 per cent since 1989 – and that decline would be sharper if it weren’t for Polish immigrants. How does the church exercise such influence? Answer: it receives £4.6 billion a year from Germany’s church tax. Its charity Caritas employs 560,000 staff – the country’s second largest employer after Volkswagen.
These vast budgets create a mindset in which German bishops feel entitled to dictate pastoral practice for Third World dioceses whose churches are overflowing but can’t afford to replace a lightbulb. The bishops of these dioceses, who will again encounter the likes of Marx and Kasper in October, are very conservative on the matter of divorce. You might think that is hypocritical, given the prevalence of priests’ mistresses in Africa, to say nothing of polygamy, but such chaos makes bishops in the developing world all the more determined to hold the line. Also, they suspect Kasper et al of subtle racism, seeking to ‘enlighten’ people of darker skin.
Meanwhile, in nearby Belgium (what is it with this part of the world?), Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp has publicly opposed the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and called for ecclesiastical recognition of gay relationships.
Yup. And what do you think the Pope will do to this Bishop? Yeah, me either.
The war for and in the Church is real. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.