(Rome) Pope Francis announced the next revolutionary "resolution" for 2020: to "normalize" the relationship of the Catholic Church to homosexuality. On this point, too, he appears to be a compliant, driven man of the Church in Germany.
Pope Francis gave to understand that the "normalization" of homosexuality is in his program for 2020 on December 16th, the day of his 83rd birthday. The President of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich-Freising, immediately followed and announced the revolution as an early "Christmas present" in 2019:
"Homosexuality is normal".
The sequence confirms what insiders have long said: The pontificate of Pope Francis is not an Argentine pontificate, but a German one - albeit a completely different "German" than that of his predecessor Benedict XVI.
This link is confirmed by a multitude of “little things,” including those such as the immediate reporting on the Marx announcement in Argentina's leading Pro Bergoglio media.
The question of exactly who is the driver and who is driven, how exactly the positions are distributed between these two poles, cannot be answered exactly, but could be reconstructed to some extent on the basis of numerous references. It already follows that there is a fundamental agreement of interests between Pope Francis and the leading part of the German episcopate. Despite the remaining ambiguities in the details, it can be said: Pope Francis may be a driven man, but he is not a victim of the majority front of the German bishops.
The main Argentine daily newspaper, Clarin, headlined in its edition of the fourth Sunday of Advent:
"The German Church is revolutionizing Catholicism and proclaiming: 'Homosexuality is normal'.
The article is adorned with a large-format picture of the weighty Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who not only speaks the decisive word in the German Bishops' Conference but also represents Europe in the meanwhile, shrunken C9 Cardinal Council through papal appointment. The shrinking of this advisory board increases the weight of those who remain.
Of course: In the case of Cardinal Marx, as with Cardinal Tagle, it applies that Pope Benedict XVI. was flattened. He made him Archbishop of Munich-Freising in 2008 and created him Cardinal in 2010. Under Benedict XVI - unlike under Francis - cardinal appointments were still foreseeable, since they were associated with certain bishops' chairs. The simulation factor should not be underestimated, since some bishops under Benedict XVI. behaved differently than now under Francis. 2011, when Benedict XVI resigned it was not yet foreseeable, when Cardinal Marx spoke in Mannheim of homosexuals as "failed and broken people".
The "synodal way"
Clarin describes the "synodal path" that Cardinal Marx and his Adlati want to prescribe for the "German Church". The goal is to revolutionize the Church. The agenda has been set. The path through the synod is the preferred instrument of revolutionaries only under Francis.
Francis soon announced "decentralization" at the beginning of his pontificate. At first it isn't really clear what he could mean. It is now known that the bishops' conferences decide whether to adhere to the traditional understanding of the sacrament of marriage or not; the bishops' conferences conferred responsibilities in the area of liturgy and even the doctrine of faith.
Cardinal Marx and other German bishops, not least those appointed by Francis, follow a precise procedure. The agreements between Berlin - Munich and Rome are not known in their ramifications, but the far-reaching consonance is evident since Pope Francis on March 17, 2013, at the first Angelus of his term, did something unprecedented: He praised a cardinal and talked about his book. This Cardinal is Walter Kasper, the former President of the Pontifical Council on Unity, that is, the Vatican Minister for Ecumenism and the Jews. It is much more important that Kasper said to the inner-Church secret group of Sankt Gallen, called "the Mafia,” which Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose as his candidate, and that Kasper was a member of the four-member team Bergoglio (Austen Ivereigh), which organized the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope at the 2013 Conclave. In the meantime, Kasper is the only living representative of the “gang of four” within the Church. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor passed away in 2017, Cardinal Lehmann in 2018 and Cardinal Danneels, who in a euphoric moment revealed the self-designation of the secret group of Sankt Gallen as a "Mafia" in 2015, died in March 2019.
The unprecedented praise, just a few days after his election, formally referred to Kasper's book on "Mercy," a key word that should be central to the new pontificate, but in reality you can see a thank you for his election to the papacy and also an anticipation of the alignment of this pontificate - on the German Kasper.
The "German agenda"
Since then, Francis developed a "German Agenda", departing from what some felt was sloppy, or what others felt was disrespectful dealing with religious customs over the first major point of recognition in the summer of 2013 of divorce and remarriage (third marriage, etc.) to the inter-communion, the Abolition of priestly celibacy and - yes - the first sensational step to "normalize" homosexuality through his infamous phrase "Who am I to judge?" on the return flight from World Youth Day in late July 2013.
No matter how exactly the interaction and engagement between the majority front of the German bishops and Francis works, a public approach can be seen:
the program originates from the German-speaking world and is mostly several decades old, which is why the term Church agenda of 68 is quite correct;
There is strong lobbying behind the scenes in Rome, while public opinion is being prepared in German-speaking countries; Detours, for example via the Amazon, are included;
the first, visible step towards the implementation of the “German agenda” is taken by Pope Francis;
the German bishops, whether collective, in groups, or individually, hurry as soon as the green light comes from Rome, thus forming the open battering ram for the world episcopate.
Small deviations such as that the guidelines of the bishops of the church province of Buenos Aires were declared by Francis to be pioneering in the admission of remarried divorced persons to the sacraments confirm the rule. It was Francis, for example, who took the first step in admitting Protestant spouses to communion at the end of 2015 with his tortuous, cryptic no-yes-yes answer when he visited the Lutheran Church of Rome. The majority of the German Bishops' Conference followed up with a "handout" at the beginning of 2018. Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer SJ, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, protested against this, but was called back by his confrere Francis - of course, quite unofficially.
Bishop Jung von Würzburg, just appointed by Francis, rushed forward in July 2018 and created facts, further German bishops followed.
German bishops as "progressive Avant-Garde"
Clarin puts it in such a way that the German church agitates in the world church as a "progressive avant-garde" with the aim of "revolutionizing world Catholicism". This “exacerbates the conflict for Francis, who, as Pope, is the 'guarantor of the unity of 1,200 million baptized,' with the “most conservative and traditionalist sectors” of the Church.
"'Homosexuality is normal,' explains the majority of the bishops of Germany, who are calling for an end to the bans and for a change of policy."
"The German bishops want a 'binding synodal path' and have involved the Central Committee of German Catholics [Call to Action] in the process, the most important lay association, chaired by Professor Thomas Sternberg. The laity demanded that women be admitted to the priesthood, including the 14,000 religious, the end of compulsory celibacy for the 13,285 priests, and the blessing of homosexual marriage in 10,045 parishes.”
This is followed by a victim narrative in the Argentine daily newspaper. "In the Vatican" one tries to create "barricades" against these efforts, "but it will be difficult" because the "around 30 German bishops" have been demanding "changes" for a long time.
Amazingly, the newspaper mentions that “the Protestants”, by which the regional churches are meant, “in the country of Luther” decrease even more “drastically” than the Catholics. This process of secularization in the historical communities of the Reformation has been observed for a long time, but has so far not had a deterrent effect on modernist circles in the Catholic Church.
Clarin confirms the strategy mentioned:
"The synods are instruments for the reforms."
The problem of schism
There is only one problem:
"The problem is how far to advance without causing breaks."
That is the concrete (and apparently only) objection Francis has against the "German way", according to the Argentine daily newspaper. What is meant is the danger of divisions. The word schism is not mentioned in the article, but Pope Francis has already done this twice specifically. At first, three years ago, he did not rule out going down in history as the Pope, under whom a schism would have occurred. Last September, he said that, of course, he should not strive for a schism, but also not be afraid.
Some commentators saw this as a warning to the intolerant Fronde around Cardinal Marx. Which may apply a little bit, insofar as Francis wants to keep control over the "irreversible processes" he initiated . Probably, much more likely, the warning targeted the "most conservative and traditionalist sectors" in the Church, as Clarin calls them. German media mostly finds only derogatory adjectives for these “sectors”. Even with these attempts at exclusion, the media title does not intend anything else, there is much agreement between circles inside and outside the Church. At stake is not just Church understanding, but nothing less than control over the Church.
Clarin names Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the leader of the opposition against the "powerful" Cardinal Marx, the prefect of the Congregation of the Faith appointe by Benedict and deposed by Francis. The Argentine daily newspaper refers this German-German conflict not only to the “German Church”, but to the Universal Church. The Amazon Synod made the German weight clear last October: the exotic rainforest synod stood from the beginning in ecclesiastical circles in the German-speaking world. The detour through the Amazon was just a tactical maneuver to disguise. It was not by accident that the Austrian pastoral theologian, Paul Zulehner confused the Lower Austrian Waldviertel with the Amazon. The geographical knowledge is correct. The Amazonian Indios are only misused by these Church circles to act against priestly celibacy. The demonstrative anti-colonialists are really neo-colonists. It's an inclination that can also be seen in Francis.
How big is the danger really that 500 years after Luther there will be a new German schism? Quite, but only under certain conditions, and this includes the guarantee of German politics not to disturb the Church tax, otherwise the schismatic scare will be over quickly. Quite also because, in contrast to 1520 - it is always worth taking a look at history - in 2020 no emperor loyal to the Church would stop the German bishops from becoming schismatic.
In addition, there is the irony of history: Such would be if the Lutherans Dispose of its founding father, Luther, just after 2017 out of political correctness, which de facto has already happened, and just at that time when the majority of the Catholic German Bishops are schismatics and probably also become heretics.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: VaticanNews / Vatican.va (screenshot)