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Cardinal Marx: Pope's annulment reforms don't go far enough

September 11, 2015

The president of the German bishops' conference has said that the reform introduced in the annulment process by Pope Francis this week "does not solve the fundamental problems" of Catholics who are divorced and remarried.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx has pushed for a change in Church teaching that would allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion. He told a press conference in Germany that this issue should still be addressed at the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops. 

For many divorced German Catholics, the cardinal argued, "annulment is a foreign word." He explained that he was thinking of those who had been married for years, and then, after divorce, entered into a second union. He suggested that they would not seek an annulment, but would wish to be brought back into the sacramental life of the Church.

Cardinal Marx said that the Church's teaching on the permanence of the marriage bond would not be changed. But he argued that there should be a way to reach out to divorced and remarried Catholics. 


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  • Posted by: Bernadette - Sep. 21, 2015 2:15 PM ET USA

    I agree with nix898049. The tribunals should be consulted BEFORE a divorce is sought or reached or finalized. The Church doesn't believe in divorce, right? "God hates divorce." I believe tribunals should work to save marriages. I have known families of 8 or slightly less or more children who obtained annulments after many years of marriage. On the surface of things, this appears to me to be ridiculous and stretching things to the limit.

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Sep. 14, 2015 3:26 PM ET USA

    In some cases Catholics have been married for a number of years and have had several children when the relationship collapses. By all appearances the husband and wife were a married couple. For the Church to say, too frequently in my opinion, there was no marriage leaves me uneasy. I've never known of a couple who was denied a declaration of nullity. How is that? Because the Church won't touch the matter before a civil divorce is final? Shouldn't the investigation precede a civil divorce?

  • Posted by: unum - Sep. 12, 2015 1:32 PM ET USA

    The Cardinal has a point. A murderer can receive absolution in Confession and then receive the Eucharist. But, a person who is married and divorced by their spouse must go through an uncertain (and often expensive) "legal process". Those that remarry without a legal "annulment" are denied access to Confession and Holy Communion, unlike the murderer. Strangely, Jesus never chose to address this complex "legal process", admonishing the divorced woman to "go and sin no more".

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Sep. 12, 2015 7:09 AM ET USA

    The fundamental problems of those who want to pretend that both their original marriage and their attempted one are valid sacramentally in the eyes of God cannot be solved by another pretense. Either Jesus's words have meaning and the force of Creator's Law, or they don't. If they don't, then the whole of Catholic teaching, not just this one, would be in doubt.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Sep. 12, 2015 3:06 AM ET USA

    In German "annulment" = Ehenichtigkeitserklärung I do not support Card Marx, of course, but maybe re: the "foreign word" part . . .

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Sep. 11, 2015 5:46 PM ET USA

    If "For many German Catholics, annulment is a foreign word," Your Eminence, pray tell whose fault that might be. This is the equivalent of a murderer of his parents petitioning the court for leniency on the grounds that he is an orphan.