Is a Clash Brewing Between Two Cardinals over Divorce and Remarriage? 12 things to know and share [Akin] one of the most prominent cardinals in the world made remarks regarding the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office that could be taken as insulting.

The issue was receiving Communion following divorce and civil remarriage.

This kind of situation is a very rare event. We don’t normally see cardinals seeming to publicly take apparent swipes at each other.

The two involved in this case are Cardinal Rodriguez and soon-to-be Cardinal Muller.

Here are 12 things to know and share . . .

1) Who is Cardinal Rodriguez?

His full name is Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga.

He is the Cardinal Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

He is also the coordinator of the group of eight cardinals that Pope Francis has gathered to help advise him on reforming the Roman Curia.

This makes him one of the most prominent cardinals in the world.

2) Who is (soon-to-be) Cardinal Muller?

His full name is Gerhard Ludwig Muller.

He is currently an Archbishop, and he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). He was subsequently confirmed in office by Pope Francis.

Recently, as expected, it was announced that he would be created a cardinal by Pope Francis on February 22.

Once that happens, he will also be one of the most prominent cardinals in the world.

3) What is the background to this situation?

For some time there have been calls—particularly in Germany—for a change in the Church’s discipline regarding Communion for those Catholics who have been divorced and civilly remarried.

Apart from extremely unusual circumstances, the Church requires Catholics to observe the Catholic form of marriage or get a dispensation from it, in order to be validly married.

For a Catholic to go to city hall and get married will not result in a valid marriage.

Consequently, the Church does not recognize the marriages of Catholics who have done this, and it must consequently regard them as living in a state of sexual sin (unless they are living as brother and sister).

This means that they are ineligible to receive Communion.

What should happen is this: Catholics who have obtained a civil divorce and who wish to remarry should pursue the annulment process to determine whether their original marriage was valid. If it is found to have been invalid, then they are free to remarry, provided they observe the Catholic form of marriage.

The annulment process exists because Christ was very firm on the permanence of marriage: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” He went so far as to say that those who divorce and remarry commit ongoing adultery against their first spouse.

Adultery is a grave sin, and so it makes one ineligible for Communion.

In response to calls for a change of the Church’s discipline on this point, Archbishop Muller published an article—first in a German-language publication and later in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, defending and explaining the Church’s position.

You can read it online in English, here.

4) How did Cardinal Rodriguez get involved?

He was being interviewed by the German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

You can read the full interview in German here.

During the course of the discussion, the interviewer alluded to Archbishop Muller’s article.

It was at this point that Cardinal Rodriguez made the remarks that raised eyebrows.

5) What did Cardinal Rodriguez say?



First, let me say I may be biased. I married a Catholic man civilly because neither of us were practicing Christianity at the time. I was previously married, also civilly, and divorced. After 20 years away from the Church and 10 years marriage, my husband came back to the Church and I came with him, bringing my oldest two from my first marriage. The child from my current marriage is unwilling to come. We’re working on him.

Due to the circumstances surrounding my first marriage, before and after the courthouse ceremony, my husband and I are certain it was not a valid marriage. Our priest agrees after reading through my annulment application and a lengthy interview. Once the annulment is complete, we will convalidate our marriage and I will be able to be fully received into the Church. Until then, I am in RCIA. My husband was never Confirmed and is also in RCIA awaiting my annulment so that he can be Confirmed.

I strongly favor priest assisted examination of conscience when it comes to receiving the Eucharist. While I understand the Church’s position, I would hope the Church would understand mine.

The annulment process is very long and involved. While I know that the Church has a heavy responsibility to make the correct determination, I do believe this process could be sped up a bit. While waiting many months/years for the process to be to complete there are Catholics and Catholic wannabe’s spiritually suffering and unable to receive the needed grace of the sacrament. At a time when we are struggling and need Jesus and the Church the most, we are told we cannot have what we need.

If the Church allowed us to go to our priests and/or a canon lawyer and have a decision made on a case by case basis those who were in invalid marriages and have civilly remarried would be able to receive until the annulment process was complete and they become able to move forward to convalidation and/or full reception into the Church.

I hope the Cardinals have a lively debate, truly understand and appreciate where the other guy is coming from, and that they forget and forgive anything offensive or hurtful that has been said.

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