True pastoral work never contradicts doctrine, cardinal stresses
By Jan Bentz
Rome, Italy, Oct 5, 2014
As bishops from around the world prepare to discuss pastoral solutions to various challenges surrounding the family, German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller explained that these solutions cannot oppose Church teaching.
“Under no circumstances can pastoral work be in contradiction with doctrine. Actions of the Church need to – if they want to be Catholic – correspond to faith and dogma,” he emphasized in an interview with EWTN News.
Cardinal Brandmüller is one of five cardinals who contributed to the book, “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church.”
The launch of the book, which explains Church teaching on marriage and family, comes just before the Synod of Bishops that will take place Oct. 5-19 in Rome.
Cardinal Brandmüller, who is the president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, explained that the synod will seek to address the broad global situation of marriage and family, and must do so in conformity with Church teaching.
“The questionnaire conducted as preparation to the Synod to show how marriage and family is perceived today, shows well that the Church in the last 50 years did not succeed in transmitting her teaching to the faithful,” he commented. “The lack of knowledge on what a sacramental marriage and a Christian family consists of, is alarming.”
“The synod’s main task will be to start a new wave of evangelization especially regarding this topic.”
Media coverage preceding the synod has focused heavily on the question of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, after Cardinal Walter Kasper suggested in a February speech that changes be made so that such individuals may receive Communion.
However, Cardinal Brandmüller emphasized that the question of Communion for remarried and divorced Catholics actually concerns very few, when one takes into account that only about 10 percent of baptized Catholics attend Mass.
“However it is a crucial topic to the Church and cannot be easily ignored.”
Regarding the proposals brought forth by Cardinal Kasper in recent weeks concerning Communion for civilly divorced and remarried Catholics, Cardinal Brandmüller said, “Every solution needs to be checked for compatibility with the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
“That means very simply put: if there is a marriage between a man and a woman, baptized Christian, which was valid and consummated, it is indissoluble. Only death can part them.”
Any pastoral ministry toward such individuals must be in alignment with this unchanging teaching of the Church, drawn from Christ’s own words.
The cardinal expressed his wish for the synod, that “faithful Catholics may deepen their faith and the life of sacraments after the synod’s conclusions have been put into practice.”
“We have to remember that this upcoming synod is extraordinary, which cannot formulate any conclusions yet. Only the ordinary synod next year can do that. It will be important to look for the discussions and dialogue that happens between these two synods, and what content will actually make it in the closing post-synodal document.”