In welcome news from Europe, Le Figaro has reported on a Rome meeting of cardinals, bishops and lay theologians to discuss improved methods of pastoral ministry for homosexuals and those who have divorced and remarried. The meeting was called by the three presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Germany, France and Switzerland – including Germany’s Cardinal Marx, who is in Pope Francis’ inner circle of 9 cardinal advisors.
The full report is behind a Figaro paywall, but Liberation and other sources are carrying a useful (French) summary from AFP, loosely translated below:
It has been learned on Sunday from corroborating sources that some Bishops from Germany, France and Switzerland met in Rome on Monday for a brainstorming meeting on the sensitive themes before the next Synod on the family, of divorced and homosexual people.
Some fifty guests, including bishops but also some lay theologians known for their reformist views, were invited to participate in this retreat at the Jesuit Gregorian University, five months before the Synod.
A letter of invitation, dated April 27, was signed by the three presidents of the three episcopal conferences, according to the document that AFP was able to consult and which was reported by the French daily Le Figaro.
The German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the German Bishops Conference, is one of the architects of this limited and informal meeting to which not all the bishops were invited.
This cardinal is one of the kingpins of an attempt to open up the Church on these issues divisive issues in the Church.
Bishop Marx, a member of the “C9”, the group of cardinal advisers to Pope Francis, is particularly receptive to proposals that would allow, and under very limited conditions, access to the sacraments for the divorced and remarried, and also for improved recognition of the place of homosexual couples in the church.
According to the Figaro, some bishops were surprised at not having been informed of this initiative.
The theologians present will be campaigning for a clear evolution of ministry vis-à-vis remarried divorcees and homosexuals.
Among them, according to Le Figaro, the French Jesuit Thomasset Alain believes that the “Christian conscience” has the right to enter into conflict with the Magisterium in ” responsible dissent” .
The German theologian Eva-Maria Faber, is critical for his part of the notion of ” the indissolubility” of marriage, that seems too rigid for him.
The German moral theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff is campaigning among others for a new approach that homosexuals “deserve support and a positive response” from the Church.