Recent statements made by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the Catholic Archbishop of Munich, have concern both among the Catholic faithful as well as among all those who think that the Catholic teaching on marriage and the family is important for society at large. In an interview first reported in the German newspaper Die Tagespost the Cardinal announced that if the upcoming Bishops’ Synod was not going to liberalize the Church’s practice regarding the indissolubility of marriage, the German bishops were going to do so anyway. Using the jargon of corporate lawyers, he said that the Church in Germany was “not merely a subsidiary of Rome”, but could interpret and teach the gospel “under its own responsibility”.
Some observers see this as a barely concealed threat with open schism.
By necessity, this raises the question whether Cardinal Marx should remain the President of COMECE, the Brussels-based Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU. When electing him for this post, his fellow bishops probably were not planning to place on the top of COMECE who actually wants to loosen or sever the ties between his country and the rest of the Catholic Church.
Besides this, one has reason to wonder whether Cardinal Marx has not accumulated more top jobs than can reasonably be expected to fill out by one man alone. Besides his responsibilities for one of the biggest Catholic dioceses in Europe he currently is the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, President of COMECE, and member of Pope Francis’ inner circle, the so-called “Group of 9 Cardinals”.