Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
This is the radical Catholic cardinal who wants to usher in a new era of freedom, humanity and progressive views for the Church after years of scandal but who faces staunch opposition from conservative critics.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx from the city of Munich, the capital of the southern German state of Bavaria, has written a new book that has just launched. It is called “Freiheit” (‘Freedom’) and contains his vision of a new Catholic Church.
He says that there needs to be fundamental changes in the way the Church operates, and he is tough on conservatives.
The 66-year-old cleric says: “The church scandals and crises of the past few years have emphasised the urgent need for renewal.”
While not quite implying that the Church should end, it is clear to him that the institution needs to do away with the old and bring in the new, saying: “However, a certain social form and also a certain language may end.”
He added: “This concerns the coexistence of freedom and obedience, faith and life, the relationship between men and women, lay people and clerics, diversity and unity in the church.”
His approach, local German media note, is categorical opposed to that of the former pope, Joseph Ratzinger, formerly Pope Benedict XVI, who has also written a new book and has reportedly called homosexuality “the work of the Antichrist.”
Marx was already considered the driving force behind a reform process of the Catholic Church in Germany, which is called the “Synodal Way” and is supposed to deal with sexual morality, celibacy and the position of women.
Conservatives like the Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki and especially the former Regensburg Bishop Cardinal Gerhard Mueller are considered to be sharp critics.
Marx does not mention any of these names in his book, but he clearly opposes conservative, reactionary tendencies, according to local media.
He said that a church “that persists in a purely negative view of modernity and dreams itself back into an idealised past […] is not only outdated, it should even be prevented. That such voices can be heard in part worries me.”
The cardinal writes that he hopes for “a new era of Christianity” and a “new theology” that will “go one step further”.
He said: “It must be a theology that learns even more to interpret the” signs of the times “in the light of the gospel”.
Reflecting on the Church’s waning flock, he also believes that “a church that expresses its faith mainly in theologically reflected texts and in the catechism […] will hardly be able to attract people.”
He said: “Nothing human is alien to the church”. as “if being free and being Catholic cannot belong together, the path of faith in the future is blocked.”
Local media believe he is extremely progressive in some ways, but concede that the cardinal is not very specific.
For example, he does not comment on the way the Catholic Church deals with homosexuals and the word celibacy does not even appear on the 175 pages of the book, according to German online site Tag24.
But he did emphasise that he was unconcerned about the matter of the ordination of women.
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