Honduras’s octocardinal, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has been getting headlines for what I was reading as a “brotherly” pushback against CDF head and cardinal-to-be Gerhard Müller. I counted no less than nine headers at conservative outlet Pewsitter. John Allen picks up the original interview and translates Cardinal Rodriguez speaking of Archbishop Müller:
He’s a German, one has to say, and above all he’s a German theology professor, so in his mentality there’s only truth and falsehood. But I say, my brother, the world isn’t like this, and you should be a little flexible when you hear other voices. That means not just listening and then saying no.
Commentariats like those at Catholic World Report are predictably bristly about the whole thing.
A few things …
There are situations in which marriages fail by malice. Some fail through ignorance. Some people simply lack good tools, or support from the Church. Second marriages have enough serious obstacles. Are older-sibling Catholics prepared to insist that sisters and brothers in second marriages be denied what we all concede is a sacramental life that provides Christ present in plenty? In other words, are some sins unforgiveable? And if so, has the Church’s canonical perspective lost perspective on what is essential for sanctification and holiness? Is the Eucharist a reward for good behavior and less a means of spiritual sustenance provided by the grace of Christ?
The Church sometimes does a lamentably poor job in preparing couples for marriage. It would be interesting to track divorce rates by the preparation ministry provided by individual clergy. That recent study found 29% of Catholic-Catholic marriages end in divorce. Suppose a priest discovered “his” marriages were failing at a forty- or fifty-percent rate. Or fifteen. Does that suggest a conversation should be started across the divide? Or that clergy and laity who assist couples in preparing for marriage should shoulder some responsibility? Would a finger-wager like Father Z refrain from receiving the Eucharist for, say, six days, if he determined he was partly culpable for the failure of marriage preparation?
This public poking among cardinals is interesting. Imagine someone telling the CDF head, say, fifteen years ago, “You don’t just listen and then say no.” That kind of talk got bishops placed into early retirement. It might be interesting, even entertaining. But what will happen among rank-and-file Catholics, especially the ones accustomed to taking marching orders, if this public discussion continues?
It seems the discussion is out in the open on this issue. More will likely follow. Looks like we will need to move beyond the rehearsed apologetic arguments in the months and years ahead. Conservative Catholic bloggerdom, watch out.