Germany’s bishops have been increasingly criticized for leading the church into heresy with impunity.
The latest example of this came this week when over two-thirds of Germany’s bishops voted to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and those living in homosexual unions to continue employment in church-run institutions almost without exception.
Until now, such employees were required to be dismissed from such employment, although the rules were often ignored. The decision is highly significant because the church is the second-largest employer in Germany, and it will have obvious repercussions on the church’s authority.
“An automatic dismissal may now in future be ruled as out of the question,” said Alois Glück, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics, the country’s top lay Catholic organization. From now on, he said, any public violation of loyalty to Church teachings must be examined on a case-by-case basis. The change represented a “substantial paradigm shift” in the application of church law, Glück added.
Germany’s bishops argue that the change in the church’s employment law, to be enacted by individual bishops, is so that the church can better comply with “lived practice.” They claim it doesn’t in any way threaten the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.
Critics, however, see it as grossly undermining church doctrine on marriage and the family. As well as weakening the church’s authority, they point out that faithful Catholics, forced to pay a church tax, will now have to support active homosexual employees and public adulterers.
“What they are pushing is not Catholic anymore,” one source close to the German hierarchy told me. “This is an arbitrary law that is against divine law, the natural law and ecclesiastical law. It’s Protestant what they are doing, and they must think we’re idiots not to realize this.”
But this isn’t the only act of dissent from the church’s doctrine: a recent survey has shown that in almost all German dioceses, sacramental absolution and Holy Communion are given to the divorced and civilly remarried, even though the church has always taught that such persons are living in a state of adultery.
The results also showed that the majority of bishops express the hope that civil second marriages be blessed in church, that Holy Communion be given to non-Catholic spouses, and that the “positive aspects” of homosexual relationships and same-sex unions should be recognized.
The survey was allegedly spun by the bishops to be more dissenting than it really was, as the official number of respondents was not disclosed. Critics also claim that professor Eberhard Schockenhoff, a dissenting theologian, is the “mastermind” behind German hierarchy’s dissent on divorce and remarriage and homosexual unions.
In the face of this brazen dissent, Rome appears powerless, no matter how much people are aware of and angered by it. The German bishops are expected to carry on regardless (in fact evidence shows they have a well orchestrated campaign to see their pastoral innovations adopted at the synod). The consequences of this could be very grave, with some saying it could lead to schism.
The Vatican has become strong in holding bishops accountable when it comes to clerical sex abuse within their dioceses. It used to be firm in resisting heretical teachings and practice for the sake of saving souls.
Many are therefore asking why it cannot be equally strong in preventing Germany’s bishops drifting into heresy, causing significant harm to the church, and leading many souls astray.
Edward Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002. He has covered the Pope and the Holy See for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times. Read more reports from Edward Pentin — Click Here Now.
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