GERMAN CARDINAL URGES CHANGE IN TRADITION AHEAD OF CELIBACY DISCUSSION

Light of truth

German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising called for change in long-standing church tradition as the German bishops’ conference prepares for a workshop debate to “review” the issue of celibacy for priests.

In his homily at New Year’s Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Munich, Cardinal Marx said the church must, “in light of the failure” surrounding the clergy sex abuse crisis, modify tradition in response to changing modern times.

“I believe the hour has come to deeply commit ourselves to open the way of the church to renewal and reform,” Cardinal Marx said, according to an audio of the homily posted on the archdiocesan website. “Evolution in society and historical demands have made tasks and urgent need for renewal clear to see.”

The cardinal, who is president of the German bishops’ conference, said that current measures to address sex abuse are not enough without adapting church teachings. “Yes, matters are about development and improvement and prevention and independent reviews — but more is also demanded,” he said.

“I am certain that the great renewal impulse of the Second Vatican Council is not being truly led forward and understood in its depth. We must further work on that,” he said. “Further adaptations of church teachings are required.”

Despite the Vatican’s call for the US Conference of Catholic bishops not to vote in November on several proposals for responding to the sexual abuse crisis because of a lack of time given the Vatican to study the proposals and potential conflicts with church law, the German bishops plan to host numerous ecclesiastical and secular professionals from various disciplines to analyse celibacy.” Truth is not final. We can recognise it deeper in the shared path of the church,” Cardinal Marx said in his homily. He said he will take new stances on issues because it is his “duty as a priest and a bishop” to do so.

He added that Catholics must “leave behind categories like left and right, liberal and conservative and concentrate on the path of the Gospel in a concrete point in time.”

“Turn yourselves to a new thinking. To risk this thinking is important at the end of year and the beginning of a new year — not a flight into the rhetoric of the past,” he said.

“Naturally we stand in a great tradition — but this is not a complete tradition. It is a path into the future.”

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